Several years ago I traveled to Saint Lucia to meet up with some friends who were spending the summer sailing around the Caribbean. For five days I enjoyed being a part of my first sailing expedition. Our captain was my friend Tony, a C-suite leader of an international corporation. Tony had been sailing for 30 years. The other friends on board had sailed for several years and all knew their roles on the boat. I was the low man on the totem pole, so my job was to get people drinks and do minor clean ups. During the daytime I watched the horizon, drank wonderful beverages, and enjoyed reading a few good books. We would sail all day and drop anchor each evening. We would then take a little dinghy onto shore for fabulous seafood. It was magical and I decided I wanted to learn how to be a captain.
Recently Jane and I, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, decided to take a little sail boat out on the Sea of Cortez. I was so excited. Our schedule only allowed us a couple of hours of sailing, but that was all I would need. I had merely been a passenger on my friend’s boat, but I would now be the captain of my own sailing vessel.
About five minutes into our voyage, I discovered it is impossible to learn to sail in a couple of hours. We took our tiny two person sail boat out on the sea and tried to adjust the sails for the direction we wanted to go. Nothing was working. The wind kept getting in my way. The sail wouldn’t go where I needed it to. It was stressful, physically taxing, and not a lot of fun. Trying to keep the sail from spinning around on the boom and knocking us out of the boat was nerve racking. I fought with the process for two hours before finally dropping the anchor and heading to the cantina.
I learned a few things that day.
- Being a good captain looks easy, but it really requires great knowledge and skill.
- Being a good passenger does not qualify you to be a good captain. Learning and practicing the skills of a captain are necessary.
- Learning to sail means knowing which way you want to go and then with intentional focussed action, adjusting the sails to take you there.
Wanting to be the captain is a noble dream. Just don’t forget, it takes training, focus and skill for you to have success in sailing the seas of your Big Life!