In the last few weeks I have been sharing about the need to have a dream. In particular in the article “The Audacity of Faith and Hope” I touched a little on how faith and hope are an anchor in life. I have developed a programme called Anchors and Sails™. Based on this programme I would like to share some insights on some principles that will help you gain perspective and stay the course as you sail through life. As you ponder these thoughts, I want to challenge you to learn to navigate your own craft in stormy weather or the deep blue calm sea and keeping upright on a true course. It’s a bit long but is a ‘soft serve’ – light reading.
Principle One – Take The Right Position
The wind can be blowing nicely, but if you are not positioned correctly you go nowhere. When you tack at the right angle, you really get moving. In business, the ‘sweet spot’ is where you take advantage of your internal strengths and external opportunities in the environment to compete in the market. This spot is called positioning and determines your competitive advantage.
Face up to your weakness, as well as your strengths. This knowledge is the power that will fill your sail. Leaders take responsibility for their lives and the direction they take. Leaders cast the vision and set the direction.
Principle Two – Prepare For the Voyage
If you fail to plan you plan to fail. Sailing is not a stroll in the park. You need to sit down and plan before the journey. Where are you going and with who? What are the resources that you need to take with you – fuel, food rations, medical supplies, fresh water, crew etc. You also need to know the navigation path. If you are well prepared there are no surprises.
Your comfort on the journey to your dream lies in knowing what might lie just ahead. Learn to read the wind and prepare yourself for what’s looming on the horizon. Leaders use insight and foresight to navigate through the high seas of life.
Principle Three – Pay Attention To The Hull
The wise Solomon talked of “knowing well the condition of your flocks, and paying attention to your herds” This is wisdom of the ages. A hull is the body of a ship or boat and provides the buoyancy that keeps the vessel from sinking. Seaman will tell you that cracks appear in the hull from time to time from stress, abuse, and normal wear and tear. It takes time to turn the boat over and sand out the rough spots and fill in all the cracks and “dings”. But if you take the time, your boat will stay seaworthy.
It’s important in season to examine your own life…the places where you might be “leaking”. You might be abusing yourself. Cracks from the elements of life might be developing. It may be time to put in a little extra “touch up”. Take a step back and look at the man in the mirror. Leaders don’t shy away from self examination.
Principle Four – Storms Ahead
It is naïve for a sailor to expect smooth sailing. The captain of the Titanic proclaimed that this big ship was ‘unsinkable’. Duh! He did not prepare for the worst, and soon they hit an ice berg. The seas will rage, storms will come and pirates lurk in the dark. Without the wind, you will sail nowhere, but strong opposing winds can at times be terrifying. How can you sail straight when the wind is coming at you? Setting the right course and constantly adjusting it will keep you on track.
Are you staying on course? Are you making the right “course corrections” in your life to help you keep your top lines working and your bottom lines intact? Leaders know how to continually adjust to keep on course.
Principle Five – When In Trouble, Let Go
A few years ago I was driving at night at an above average speed when I suddenly saw a donkey. I had three “no options” – to hit the donkey; go over the road embankment or hit an oncoming haulage truck. I chose the first option. I lightly hit the brakes, released, braked and released the car on the donkey. It was a good gamble. Nothing happed to the car or to us. The releasing helped. It is not uncommon to get caught up in a draft that threatens to capsize your boat. Instead of getting tipped over, all you have to do is let go of the sail and the helm/rudder. The boat automatically positions itself into the wind, and then you can try again.
What do you need to let go of? Your reputation? Your shame? There is a time to be a macho and a time to be strong enough to let go. Letting go will give you an opportunity to bounce back strong and sound. Leaders have great stretch.
Principle Six – Sail With Others
Sailing can be very lonely. You need to take others along with you. The journey is smoother and the burden lighter when shared. Sailing can also be a lot of fun. Imagine watching the dolphins, the sunset, the whales and just enjoying the sea breeze …such a relaxing experience is best enjoyed with others.
You do not want to be a giant surrounded by dwarfs. Neither should others light be dim so yours can shine. Someone needs to hear how you sail into growth or recovery. You’ve faced strong winds and rough waters. Share your story and your struggles. Be an encourager. Keep an eye out for that good soul on the horizon that needs to be invited in. Leaders invite others along.
Principle Seven – Unchartered Waters and New Frontiers
The world is more than two-thirds water and you will never run out of new places to sail and explore. There are always new adventures. You will always enjoy warm winds, colourful skies and deep blue water every time you venture out!
The best is yet to be. You don’t ever have to stop, and it’s not something that is ever “complete” or that you eventually “retire” from. As you grow you’ll have a greater capacity to lead and influence those around you. Keep venturing out, dream big and execute those dreams. Set sail for the furthest of shores and deepest of oceans. Remember to take your anchors and sails with you. Faith and hope!