Recently, I had the opportunity to go on an incredible journey with my son.  We went sailing in the British Virgin Islands on a 50-foot mono-hull sailboat with another father and son team, each of us working towards obtaining our captain’s licenses. There are four things that we learned about sailing during our BVI adventure that you can directly apply to your business and here they are.

Number 1: Sailing (and business) is DIFFICULT.

Sailing was so much harder than I thought it would be. Every kibble and bit on the boat has a name and none of the names are common sense or intuitive. There are tons of rules. Not only do you have to learn how to sail the boat and learn all of the names of the pieces, but you also have to learn the fundamentals of sailing, how to sail into the wind, how to sail away from the wind, and how to maneuver the boat in a different direction at a moment’s notice.

There are rules of the waterways called “rights of way”, and they require extensive knowledge of which boat is under power of motor or sail, which boat is closer to the wind, and whether the wind is originating from the right side, the left side, the starboard side, or the tack of the vessel. There are multiple different decision trees that have to be methodically processed before you can make a decision as to whether you’re the stand-on vessel or the give-away vessel. There is a lot of preparation that goes into just learning the basics of sailing before you can even attempt to try it on your own.

My experience in business has taught me that extensive preparation is required to reach any modicum of business success or autonomy and I am grateful to have the good fortune to impart such practical knowledge to my son in such a hands-on way. The business of building wealth from zero, or even from a negative position, is extremely hard. There are a billion obstacles trying to force you to fail…these obstacles can take the form of low salary, overspending, under-saving, poor investment returns or loss of capital, high interest rates, high taxes, high inflation, unforeseen expenses, medical issues, divorce, kids, and even black swan events. Looking at so many road blocks on the path to success, it’s amazing to me sometimes that anyone succeeds at life or wealth building at all.  I know many people who have let these odds get them down and have suffered from a lack of faith or hope in themselves. This is crushing. You have to believe in yourself and you have to surround yourself with others that have achieved success or that are on the path to doing so.

Number 2: Success Takes Team Work & Communication

The captain calls orders to the helmsmen and to the rigging. Tacking is fairly easy, but jibing can get downright dangerous to the crew and to the boat. A sail is an airfoil, like an airplane wing. It works by creating lift but the irony is that the sailboat works best when sailing against the wind. There’s a no sail zone that is directly into the wind, but at shallow off-angles to the wind, the sailboat can zigzag into the wind under properly trimmed sails, with the wind rushing across the sail to create a lift, which accelerates the boat. This creates movement towards the destination. As with a successful team within a business, the kind of communication and team work we employed during our sailing trials and tribulations is the same kind that is essential to business success. Understanding the damaging effects of the forces standing in the way of your success and knowing how to offset and overcome them is critical.  If it were easy, everyone would do it. Becoming wealthy is simple but it’s not easy. Don’t try it alone.

Without clear communication, neither the sailboat nor your business will ever go anywhere. Without forces against you, it’s hard for you to reach the highest elevation, or your potential. Struggles create opportunity. Without wind, the sailboat is idle. An airplane can’t take off without air rushing under the wings. I recently heard that New Zealand is one of the few places on Earth where the birds have very few predators. Due to this fact, they lose their escape mechanism. They just walk around and get fat and lazy, they forget how to fly, and their wings shrink. Has your business grown over adversity? If not, then maybe it’s time to shake things up.

Number 3: Preparation & Contingency Planning Are Required & Checklists Are CRITICAL

The engine has to be checked, the seacocks must be checked to make sure that they’re closed. You have to review your map, your waypoints, and your coordinates. You have to know which moorings and anchorages that you’re heading to along with backup moorings and anchorages should your original plans go haywire. You have to know where the channels are and what the depth of the water in those channels is at the time you plan to pass through them. Lastly, you have to know what the weather is doing for the entirety of your journey and monitor the wind continuously. There are a lot of factors that affect your day on the water. Preparing for those factors, probabilities, and possibilities as well as preparing for the unexpected and the emergencies that can arise is critical. Does all of this sound familiar?  Hopefully it reads like a list of all of the things that your Business Continuity Plan addresses.

Businesses must have preparation, not just in the initial startup phases, but in reaching adolescence and maturity.  Systems and processes need to be created, mapped, and then implemented and reviewed. Ultimately, these labors of love create a more streamlined service or product and create less stress and more freedom. Contingencies rely upon insurance against job threatening illnesses or premature death.  This insurance often comes in the form of business and family continuity planning, which is incredibly critical to surviving any kind of disaster. Businesses and families alike should have continuity plans for loss of data, location, power, and manpower as well as succession plans for principles and providers.

Number 4: Success OPENS Doors For You

All four of us passed the American Sailing Association 101, 103, and 104 classes. This now allows us to rent a bareboat sailboat up to 50 feet in length and to sail anywhere in the world on that boat that our Wanderlust can take us. We could sail in the Gulf of Mexico, down into the Caribbean, into the Atlantic, over to the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the Indian, the Pacific, through the Panama Channel…There are countless possibilities that we can all explore now thanks to our education gained in BVI.

Overcoming all obstacles and never giving up is not celebrated enough. If you’ve made it, pat yourself on the back.  Good job! Sometimes it’s lonely at the top. Hopefully you’ve brought others with you. Hopefully you’ve helped others achieve their dreams along the way. Now is a good time to look around and give a hand, a word of encouragement, or mentorship to someone behind you. Success opens doors and can allow you to do amazing things, go amazing places, and make an amazing impact on others. Enjoy the freedom you’ve worked so hard to achieve, and hopefully helped others to achieve. Haven’t achieved that freedom yet?  Fear not, we’re here to help you.  The entire High Speed Alliance community is available to YOU at YOUR fingertips, ready and willing to give you that hand up, word of encouragement, or mentorship that you need to finally make it.  Until next time.


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