Last Sunday I stood on a bluff in Santa Monica overlooking the ocean. A dozen sailboats spread across the horizon, enjoying a beautiful Southern California day.
Although it’s been years since I sailed, it’s something you don’t forget. Each sailing trip is unique. One time I floated along, almost dozing, as the boat lapped through the water. Another trip, I negotiated 20 foot waves for hours to keep the boat upright. Even when you check the weather in advance there are no guarantees for smooth sailing.
Life is like that too. Unpredictable. Buffeted by the changing winds of circumstance, we are all captains of our own ship. I offer a few things I have learned from sailing as ways to cross your own outrageous sea.
You set the course, no matter which way the wind blows. Sailing is an art – feeling the pulse of the wind, setting the sails to capture the gusts and move the boat forward. It is your determination and direction that takes you forward. The very force of the wind against you drives you to your goal. Navigating your business plan may be no less challenging. Successful people feel the pull of their heart and the whispers of intuition.
You set your own course.
It’s rare that you move in a straight line. Be willing to change course frequently. Life is just like that – port and then starboard, and back again. Keep a taut sail, but be willing to change direction. Be aware of the horizon and your goals at all times. Otherwise the changing winds and tides can confuse you.
Expect change and adjust.
Be careful of the lull. As you tack from one side to another there is a momentary place where the sails flap, noisy and seemingly out of control. It can be a frightening moment of indecision and doubt. In that moment you decide the next turn. It may be the moment you decide whether to leave a marriage, or start a new business, or move to a new community. There is no right answer.
The only danger is stopping in the middle. You must move forward and fill your sails. The lull of self-doubt is natural. Welcome it as a sign that you are changing. Welcome it as the progress that it truly demonstrates. And move on.
Self-doubt happens when you are changing, keep moving.
If you persist you’ll get there. The timing isn’t up to you. Winds and waves have their own rhythm. You can steer and set the sails. Then be patient and enjoy the ride. Keep your eye on the compass and move toward your goal.
You will reach your goals, at exactly the right time for you.
When the wind is pushing you forward, enjoy. Then, to sail beyond your wildest imagination – make the extra effort to put up your spinnaker.
When you have been grinding hard to move upwind, it is natural to take it easy and relax when the wind is behind you. It takes a little extra effort to pull out the spinnaker. Yet it you have ever seen a boat being pulled along by the half balloon at its bow, you can understand the sheer exuberance of a winner. Take the extra step.
Celebrate at the top of your game, rejoice and dance through the waves, spinnaker flying.
Step back from the daily grind and feel the wind in your face. Look up and keep your goals in sight. You are the captain of your ship. Glad to come aboard and share the journey!