Personal Development Toolbox

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What is Steering Your Ship?

Written by Michael Angier

One of my great joys and pleasures is a sailboat Dawn and I own named “Attitude”.

When Attitude was hauled from the lake last fall, I had the marina crew remove her rudder so we could recondition it over the winter. Its fiberglass skin was de-laminating a bit and I wanted to stop the problem before it weakened this critical component.

Last week, I went to the shipyard to pick up the rudder. I knew it was big (it stands almost 5 feet, even without the rudder post), but I had no idea how HEAVY it was—over 300 pounds.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, it’s responsible for steering over eight tons of fiberglass, steel, aluminum and people through the water. It needs to be strong. I need to trust it to take the strain and endure the pressures placed upon it.

As heavy as it is, it’s still less than 1/50th the size of the yacht it steers. It’s an interesting ratio—a 300-pound rudder guides 53 times its own weight.

It made me think about what steers our lives. What experiences, skills or values allow us to direct our destiny? What’s ‘under the water’ that doesn’t always show but is absolutely critical to our direction and progress?

I believe our rudder is our values.

We are the captains of our ships (our lives). We choose our destinations (goals). We plan and execute tactical decisions. We use the tools, skills and equipment to the best of our ability. We train, motivate, direct and inspire our team (crew). We need dedication and
commitment to take us through the storms as well as the shallows that lie in our way.

When we know what’s really important to us, we can act with confidence and integrity. Understanding and prioritizing our values makes decisions easier. It makes us who we are.

This winter, as I’m rebuilding Attitude’s rudder, I’m also revisiting my values—making sure I’m living my life in keeping with them. As I reinforce, spruce up and polish my boat’s rudder, I’m doing the same thing with my values—making sure they’re clear, properly ordered and STRONG.

I have complete confidence that my “Attitude” will continue to steer me in the directions I want to go for many seasons to come.

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