I live on the west coast of Canada and the ocean is just a fact of life. While not a sailor myself, I know a number of people who just love being out on the water. In my previous city we had an annual international yacht race that avid sailors yearned to be a part of.
A friend of mine was a fervent sailor and The Swiftsure was a race he strove to be a part of. As a single parent, he never afforded a boat of his own, but he did a lot of work around a local yacht club, helped out with all the smaller races and gained the respect of many of the boat owners. Inevitably the opportunity to crew a boat arrived. He loved it. He enjoyed his companions and as his children grew he was able to devote more time to his passion.
Several years running my friend was invited to crew a boat in The Swiftsure. He loved it no matter what the weather brought and, like all sailors in the 20+ hour race, tolerated exhaustion and sometimes pain to help get his boat around the markers and home as quickly as possible.
I’ll never forget the year I asked him about the up-coming race. He side-stepped the question at first, then admitted he would not be racing that year. Stunned, I asked for an explanation.
It turns out that the skipper of the boat my friend raced with was a competitive man. He was also a little short-tempered. His idea of winning the race was to keep his eye on his competitors, watch what they were doing and compete at that level. If someone was hugging the coast and seemed to be doing well, he would direct his boat toward the coast-line and try that for a while. Then if he saw another boat flying up the centre of the channel he would sail toward the centre of the channel and follow that boat’s course. He wasted so much time following the others he held no chance of gaining on them.
My friend loved the boat, he felt she had a win in her. He also studied sailing techniques for that class of boat and spent hours on the water trying to experience as many conditions as he could. But he could never convince the skipper to chart his own course and follow it.
This story now becomes my analogy for how NOT to run a business. Your business is an important entity and you need to look at what you want to do and what you need to do to accomplish that. You need to chart a course to get your business to the level of success you desire.
To return to my sailing analogy for a moment, this is not to say you shouldn’t adjust the sails from time; or look around at the current atmosphere and decide if a slight change in direction is necessary.
What you absolutely cannot do is look around at your competition and decide that some technique seems to be working for them so you should try it! You cannot read an article about some new gimmick and decide that might be fun to have. You can’t be buying every new accessory that comes on the market in hope that one will be the magic bullet!
The very best way to reach your goal is to find a “skipper” with a proven track record. Not one with enough money to buy a beautiful boat but no clue how to race her. A skipper who has learned what it takes to get a business up and running from nothing; a skipper who is also focussed on their own win as well as having the desire to coach you to yours!
Implement these dos and don’ts and you will have a very strong chance of winning your race. It may take a few years to win the big prizes, but you will be a contender, and a finisher. Important positions for any business!
To your success!
As an avid sailing fan, I loved the sailing analogy and it is so true. I would have been much further along by now if I had just charted a course and stuck with it.
I hear that a lot, Marty!
Awesome analogy (as always) Agnes,
And a good reminder to do our own thing even if sometimes it’s a little off kilter.
I listened to a webinar this week where the host shared that she is only on “one” person’s email list at a time and she never pays attention to what her competitors are doing.
I thought her approach was interesting and certainly different.
Hmm, not sure I would never look at what the competitors are doing, Linette. I just wouldn’t pull up anchor and go gallivanting in their wake! You do do need a finger on the pulse of the marketplace.
this is so true. yet we have so much temptation in front of us to buy buy buy. You are right. We need to know where we are going and not get side stepped or sail up the wrong way.
I like the way you have put this.
Thank You, Lisa!
Another very insightful post Agnes. It is so easy to keep looking at what others are doing and just try to follow them rather than to “Chart your own course”! Finding someone to guide you is essential, but eventually you have to do your own thing and be unique.
and I do love being unique!!
Exactly Agnes ! You have hit the nail on the head. I have also been guilty in the past of buying things that seemed to work for others and then finding it didn’t work for me. I now keep on a one way track. Thanks for sharing.
I think many of us have learned from experience, Merle. The good news is we learned!
I so enjoyed this post. I do believe in charting one’s own chart and then be consistent in following it. I think that the main things stopping us is the lack of consistency.
I think consistency is often a learned trait, Rachel. I’m still learning!
I totally agree, charting ones course is a powerful tool on the road to success and it is not always necessary to re-invent the wheel.
I love your analogy Agnes. I’ve spent time checking out other’s websites, and trying to match what they are doing, but that never works in the long run. I just hired a coach to help me pinpoint my niche so I can have my business growing much faster. To run a successful business, you need to be unique and put your own personality in it. Thanks for the story Agnes. 🙂
I think it would be more difficult to stick with it if you don’t go with your personality characteristics. It would take too much focus for me to create something that wasn’t me!
If your gonna start something you have to see it through to the end right… otherwise what is the point?
I agree, William. I come from the school that you finish what you start. Sometimes the only lesson learned is that it is not for you, but that too is a valuable lesson.
Love the analogy. Once you have chosen your skipper, (the one proven and experienced mentoring) stick with it, and work at it.
Like the saying goes, “still waters run deep” and
“A rolling stone gathers no moss”