For me, a beautiful day of sailing is as sweet as a bowl of cherries…
In 2003, I went to school to get my bareboat charter certificate. The first morning of sailing, the instructor gave us our first and most important lesson. Whoever is at the helm is the “captain”. The “captain” has a big problem, because from behind the wheel the sails create a massive blind spot, so it’s everyone on board’s job to be on the lookout for other boats. Whenever someone sees a boat they are to call out its position, and when this happens the captain is allowed only one response. “Thank you.” This is a simple and ingenious protocol to ensure that communications concerning the predominant danger to the vessel are sent and received in a manner that will prevent an accident AND a breakdown in future communication.
If only our bids and responses were as clear and easy as we sail through life. For the captain and crew, the blind spots on the boat are pretty easy to distinguish, and a predictable, consistent, and positive method of communicating to overcome them makes for an enjoyable sail. In life, blind spots are much more difficult to identify, and the variety of bids we make as we sail along can leave all sorts of questions when received by others simultaneously navigating their course. Often, we send what we think is a helpful comment that is received as hurtful, or we make an attempt at humor that lands wrong… more grievously, we lose control for a moment and respond to something in a way that takes all the air out of everyone’s sails and leaves us run aground and in need of repair. So what’s the best way to sail safely to harbor? Take the time to understand your crew, and have them understand you. Be thoughtful with your words. Speak truth in love with an emphasis on the love. Appreciate those who are journeying with you and let them hear your appreciation often…you will go farther together. Finally, when you do mis-navigate and run aground, move to repair as quickly and thoroughly as possible. I believe we weren’t meant to be in dry dock, we were meant to be catching the wind and flying along the water.
As you hoist your sails today, take a look at those onboard with you, who on your crew could use more appreciation? Where might you need to do some repair? Sweet sailing.