Think about how many times sailing terms are used in the office and our personal lives. Lately, I’ve heard references to the winds of change. To be successful we need an even keel and behave above board to staying afloat. Leaders navigate through troubled waters, and they may re-chart the course.
Sailing is like a metaphor for life’s journey. Sailors know they cannot control the sea or the wind. Each one of us must learn to navigate through waters that threaten to drown us. At times we might need to change course to avoid a storm or a collision. We might be faced with waves coming over the bow and need to know how to use pumps or bailers as the water rises above our ankles. When the wind blows stronger or from a different direction, we need to adjust our sails to hold our course.
Sailors know that drifting a couple of degrees off course for too long without correction can direct the ship towards rocky shores. They also know that sometimes it is necessary to go off the intended course to avoid an impending storm and reach our desired destination safely.
Sailors know that staying the course as the winds and seas become challenging is only possible if he has developed the necessary knowledge and skills. The more skills a sailor has acquired, the more comfortable he will be when the wind and sea become more challenging. When unexpected storms arise, his very survival may depend on this.
Just as we need to adjust to life’s ongoing emotional and practical challenges, one of the beauties of sailing is that it teaches us to acclimatizing to ever changing seascape and weather. Sometimes those challenging conditions mean our journey will be longer. Sometimes the strong winds will accelerate the voyage.
Many of us drift aimlessly driven along by the wind and life’s circumstances, just trying to survive. Meanwhile, others lean skills, find a suitable boat, harness the elements, set goals, strive to reach them, and thrive.
And when we do it well, we are rewarded with success, incredible beauty, contentment, and joy.
I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.
~ Louisa May Alcott