Joanne and I went sailing recently – a first for both of us. Our friends Connie and Sheila invited us out for an afternoon of sailing, which we readily accepted. Being totally unknowledgeable about sailing, I assumed that once you put the sail up, you simply went wherever the wind took you. It was fascinating to learn that we are not “victims” of the wind. Rather, I learned you simply set your sail to take you in the direction you want to go – and adjust your sail to continue in that direction as the wind changes.
Here’s another lesson that blew me away. I would have thought that having the wind directly behind you – going exactly in the direction of the wind – would produce the fastest speed. But no, physicists have shown that the boat does not go fastest with the wind directly behind it. This is a common mistake of beginning sailors who will then never sail faster than the speed of the wind. But experienced sailors know that a boat can go twice the speed of the wind by having the wind coming from the side. So if you want to keep things smooth you will max out your progress quickly. If you can handle a little turbulence, you can double that speed.
What a great picture of our lives today. I hear so many people complaining about the “wind” they can’t control that’s taking them in the wrong direction: the government, taxes, the economy, the company, family members, business failure, job loss, unexpected health concerns, or competition overseas. What if, instead of feeling pulled off course, we simply adjusted our sails and continued in the desired direction?
If you allow the wind to direct you, your progress will be limited. If you take advantage of the turbulence, you may in fact double the speed in the direction you wanted to go anyway.
The sailing experience was exhilarating on many levels. The fresh air, the calm movement, the great conversations, the wine and cheese, and those important life lessons all left us feeling refreshed and invigorated.
Where have the “winds” taken you this year?