BOBWAnimation01b BestOfBothWorlds-v01 02  

Best of Both Blog

Life Lessons From Sailing

A couple of weeks ago I drove to Pensacola, Florida, boarded a Beneteau 393 and sailed for six days with three other guys and our captain, Kathy Struchen. The purpose was for the four of us to complete our 103 and 104 certifications so we could pilot boats up to 50 feet in length. I enjoy sailing and have had "becoming a captain" on my bucket list for some time.

But like most things in life, there are lessons to be learned and here are ten that I have learned from sailing that you might find helpful in leading your business or your ministry.

1)      Pack light

Don't take too much with you – too many conclusions, too many rules, and too many preconceived notions. It restricts you and doesn't leave room for other ideas.

2)      Watch your water

While you are sailing you are surrounded by water, but it is the wrong kind. Fresh water is a limited but valuable asset. Be good stewards of all your resources.

3)      Trim your sails constantly

Good sailors constantly "trim" their sails to match the point of sail they are travelling. It requires frequent adjustments so that you can optimize your speed and your direction. Good sailors are always looking for the most efficient way to use the wind they have.

4)      You can't control the tides or the wind

In sailing you have to chart a course from point A to point B, making sure you avoid shoals, shallow drafts, and restricted areas. But the best laid plans on your chart don't work out if you don't factor in the tides or the wind; and you can't always accurately forecast either. No plan is perfect so you have to be prepared to change when needed.

5)      Watch for wrecks and reefs

Boats wreck for specific reasons. There may be a reef or underwater obstacle you don't see, could be carelessness on behalf of the captain, an unforeseen storm arose, you get the point. But as you are traveling, those wrecks and reefs are in front of you and they are there for a reason – for you to avoid. Learn from others' mistakes and avoid the damage.

6)      Listen and accept directions from others

As you are laying an anchor, you can't see where it's going from the helm. So you have to have someone up front who is coaching you as to the direction you need to take – port or starboard, forward or aft. If you tried to do it yourself, you would make a mess of it; remember that when you're working with others – listen!

7)      Communicate

One of the rules for good captains is to share the plan before you take the trip. That way all of your crew members know what you are going to do, why you are going to do it and what their role will be in the successful navigation. If your crew does not know the plan, you are not going to get to your destination easily.

8)      Equip your crew

In addition to knowing the plan, they have got to be equipped to execute the plan. More gets done if the load is shared.

9)      Sometimes you have to ride out the storm

We were sailing along in light to moderate rain when a squall line approached and thunderstorms broke out. There was thunder and lightning and while we could have chosen to try and continue, it became pretty clear we were not in control. We moved in to Pensacola Bay, dropped anchor, went below and rode out the storm. The storm passed, we continued on our journey and made it to our final destination. Sometimes you have to ride out the storm.

10)  Anchor firmly

The anchor is not as heavy as you would think; the "rode" or the chain that is attached to it provides additional weight and lays flat on the bottom of the ocean. The combination of the anchor and the rode allow you to stay in place if you set the anchor well. Just like with that anchor we need to set and stay with our principles. The values that we claim are important. If you set them and stay with them they will hold you in good stead.