ABC Resolution: sailboats


What if you could pilot work like a sailboat, in any water or weather?

During our great Industrial Age, huge ships were the image of success. From ocean liners to oil tankers, big was better. Load them full, crank the engines and set them on their course. But as the Titanic is the perfect metaphor for the supposed unsinkable as sinkable, its inability to perceive a problem, in time to change course fast enough, is a lesson for us all.

Lo, the lowly sailboat. More maneuverable and swift, a sailboat can easily change direction in a windy business climate. Smaller-to-small has many advantages. Steer a small boat and your chance of evading obstacles, like icebergs, is greater. You are forced to tack and make course corrections more often, thereby plotting strategies and visiting outcomes regularly. On a small boat, everyone on board counts. Each role is evident. Contributions to success are clearly identifiable and everyone is of value and important.

There are many types of sailboats. Some are easier to rig and some easier to sail. Some carry extra sails to unfurl before the wind. Others have the ability to keep choppy waves from breaking over the sides and some are better balanced for calmer waters. Smaller, easily maneuvered boats are best for the flexible, agile and mobile work of today’s businesses. Pick your boat’s style and rigging with conscious intent. The set sail. The tide has turned.

resolve to: catch the wind


Using sailboats as an analogy is an old, but still valid tool. Besides choosing the boat style, rigging and sailing the boat, sometimes the most important and hardest part of any voyage is the point where you set sail. Setting sail is, of course, about leaving the dock. Letting go of the rope that securely tethers you in that safe place or harbor.

Setting sail in business, as in life, means untying the ropes, whether it be to launch a new business, program or just move forward in your career. We have all sorts of things that keep us to our current position and stop us from setting sail. Those ties are often limiting beliefs. Fears, not generated by you, but most often by others. Beliefs implanted in your mind that run like a loop, over and over. You’ll drown. You don’t have the right boat (stuff) to make a go. Why do you want to go there? What’s wrong with you that you don’t want to stay with us? Emotional blackmail ties or others’ projections that reflect back on you and your relationships to them. If you go, their life will change too.

Limiting beliefs come in three categories.

  1. Personal – I can’t do it.
  2. Near External – You/we can’t do it.
  3. Far Societal – It can’t/shouldn’t be done.

The first step to overcoming limiting beliefs is to recognize them. It’s pretty simple. Every time you hear a negative, whether external and internal, stop and say,, “Oh that may be a limiting belief.” The brain pattern you have to reroute is your tendency to obey those thoughts and to ignore their real meaning and origin or rationalize these beliefs as true. Breaking that pattern is not easy. It takes repetition, as did the formation of the existing brain patterns, the repeated hearing of the don’ts and no’s.

Recognition is the most important first step to setting sail. There is doing in the knowing. Know, then let go of the rope and sail a new path. Make your own voyage patterns and travel to new places in your mind. I also recommend you set sail in a smaller, more agile boat. One that enables you to tack often, to change course in order to catch the wind of opportunities and possibilities.

Old fears creeping in? You can always return to the dock. Moor in a quite cove along the way to temporarily enjoy your newly found patterns and places. Or land in a new place and relish the scenery. Have a lull in sea breeze? Dig deep into your emotional energy for any wind to refill your sails. Always know, your new future is only the next wave away.

resolve to: catch the wave