Building a Boat

After years of building, I have a boat.  Not a literal boat, but a figurative one – a metaphor for my life.

During my early adult years, this boat began as a wooden dingy – quick, small, fragile, and full of leaks.  As I got older, the craft got faster, more agile, yet nearly rudderless – something on par to a ski boat or a party boat with engines that were on fire. Eventually, my boat evolved into a ship, built for meaningful adventure, becoming solid, stable, yet slower moving.  Today, this ship provides comfortable quarters, stability to handle rough seas, but requires constant maintenance and attention.  It’s functional, still fun, and built with a purpose in mind.

I’m the captain and my crew includes; my wife (first mate), my children (precious cargo), and a ton of family, friends, colleagues, coaches, and neighbors (support staff).  Everyone on my ship is helping me reach a destination, whether they realize it or not. 

For most of my life, I worked on building the boat and filling it with the “right” people.  It took years to figure out that some people onboard were adding leaks, rather than helping to plug them up.  By determination, tough choices, and luck, my crew has been fully vetted and we now have an exceptional team.

While I have been captaining my ship and crew for many years, it wasn’t until more recently that I had a destination in mind.  Before this realization, I was a master at doing figure eights in the ocean, often coming back to where I started.

Today, while the seas are more treacherous than ever before, the sailing is determined, meaningful, and with less doubt.  The boat is pointed towards a bright north star to find its way across a vast and open ocean.  At times we are thrown off course, but with a north star to follow, I am able to quickly get back on track.  Without this north star, my fancy ship would be lost at sea and its captain would be using old outdated maps not knowing which direction to turn.

Other than being emotionally traumatized on a boat as a child, I don’t know much about the water or captaining any vessel larger than a kayak.  With that said, here are some questions to consider as you navigate life’s high seas…

  • What is your north star?  Where do you want your boat to go?
  • Why is this north star important to you?
  • When your boat is knocked off course, what is usually the cause?
  • When knocked off course, what are you doing to ensure your boat quickly returns to tracking your north star?
  • Who is on your boat that may be causing it to leak? Who do you need to add to your boat to help keep it afloat?
  • Is your boat built to weather choppy seas?  What’s one thing you can do today to reinforce your hull?
  • Are you the captain of your boat, or merely a passenger on someone else’s?
  • What type of boat are you captaining? Has it been developed to target your current destination, or is it an outdated model?

Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners with 5 to 500 employees, helping them to work “on” their business not “in” their business.

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