These “winds” are helping me

Dan Miller —  December 27, 2011 — 6 Comments

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?

  • Connie Williams

    Dan, I love this post.  When Sheila and I  first learned to sail, each time we got in the boat – Bob Ware (our sailing instructor) told us to “Pick a Heading”.  I never fully understood what that meant, until one day.   I remember the day like it was yesterday, when I finally realized “WE HAVE TO HAVE A HEADING”.  If we know where we are going, we have a heading.  If we don’t have a heading, we’re just getting blown around by the wind.  Thank you Dan for helping us all learn how to set our sails, so we can go in the direction of our dreams.

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream. Discover.”  ~ Mark Twain


    • Tony Socci

      I’ve been collecting quotes for my line of greeting cards and I want to thank you for the Mark Twain quote.

      I’ve been a sailor for many years and it is one of my most favorite activities. I used to race my 17′ Spindrift and I got my name, n1sailor, by placing first in a race against Laser class boats at our yacht club on Owasco Lake in upstate New York. It was such a thrill to hit the starting line to windward first and lead all those faster boats around the course! 

      Thanks again!

  • bubz bugz

    Awesome post! It reminds me that we have this ultimate gift of “choice” that we could always use to direct us in achieving our dreams. However, we should first have the focus and have enough reason to get where we wanted to go. Otherwise, turbulence would always get in the way and distract our attention.

  • Addie Hirschten

    “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
    -Jimmy Dean

  • Enoch Sears

    Dan – great analogies between life and sailing. Glad you could break away for a while and enjoy some fresh air and blue water.

  • Julie Sibert

    Such great insights Dan!  Thanks for sharing!   This post reminds me in fresh ways of something that is true in marriage as well.  I speak and blog on sexual intimacy in marriage and so often i hear from people who seem to be resigned to their circumstances — they refuse to change course to gain momentum in a healthier direction.

    Anyway, thank you so much for all you do!   I follow you regularly and think you’re really impacting lives in tremendous ways.