Small, Early, and Often

Small, Early, and Often

Lessons from driving a sailboat. When I am training someone to steer a sailboat, there is always the problem of over correcting, and over steering. This is almost as true for intermediate sailors as it is for beginners.

If all we are doing is going out to cruise around in the sunshine, then this arguably enough.

What are you aiming for?

But a boat sails more smoothly when it is being steered with precision. The ride is more comfortable, the conversation more relaxed. And so I train my crew and my team to make corrections small, early, and often. You could wait until you are way off course, and make an obvious correction then. But why not focus in on EXACTLY where you are trying to go, and aim directly for the target?? And if we are racing, well then suddenly the difference between being right on course, and a degree or two off might be the difference between winning and losing!

Sail racing and business are both competitive. In business, teams that consistently hit the mark they are aiming for earn the resources to keep doing so. Let me leave you with this. Whatever goal or target your team has chosen, make your course corrections small, early, and often!!

Whatever goal or target your team has chosen, make your course corrections small, early, and often!!

Photo Credits @MKPhotomedia

It’s Already Happening

It’s Already Happening

When you are driving a car, and you turn the steering wheel, you get an immediate and noticeable change in direction.  On a sailboat this is not always the case.  Especially when there is less wind, or the boat is moving slowly on calm waters, it can be really hard to notice the effect of the steering because the boat is much slower to respond than you expect. 

So when we are sailing up to Granite Falls, which is near Vancouver, we are sailing against wind.  There a sort of trick in sailing, which allows you to zigzag up wind.  Each time we zig instead of zag, we “Tack” the boat, by making a 90 degree turn, and resetting the sails for our new wind angle.  The most common thing for someone learning to sail is to feel like the boat has not responded to the steer, and then to over correct and over steer.  I have learned that my role as both a captain and a teacher, is to offer tools to the person learning.   What works for some sailors, is to give themselves a 10 count before deciding what  the outcome of their adjustments will be.

The way that we explain this on Sailboat Coaching International trips, is that It is Already Happening. You have already done the work. You have made the adjustments. The boat is responding. Give it time to get to where you have asked it to go.

This is true in life also.  This is how. So often we are tempted to course correct, or even give up BEFORE we know if it is working or not.  With an exercise program, or a meditation habit, it can be easy to feel like you have plateaued and are not making any gains.  So long as you are doing the exercises correctly, and so long as you continue on, you will see results.  Be patient.

It is also easy to true in business.  Building a business takes time.  Building a team takes time.  The next time you are doing the work, and not seeing immediate results, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that it is already happening!


What if we could have a meaningful and positive engagement with any of the questions our culture is asking?  For a long time, I have maintained that it isn’t possible to do so inside of a two party system.  What if I was wrong?  What would meaningful engagement look like?

If you look at the arguments being waged now inside a two party system; science vs. religion, red vs. blue, abortion vs gun control, all lives vs black lives, first amendment vs 2nd amendment…  If your position is one of the sides of these unhelpful arguments, I invite you to do better. What that exactly looks like, is a work the collective creativity to envision a positive way forward.

Because progress is not being made. You are not changing the mind of the “other” side. You are not looking at the world as it is, but from inside of a set of stories that are proving themselves to be increasingly unhelpful.

Wouldn’t you rather be a part of the solution?  What is the solution?  Well (and when I say we, I mean humanity) haven’t thought of it yet.  Even in Canada, we sometimes forget that we are not part of that two party world, and we try to take the teeth out of our thoughts and make them small enough to shoehorn into an uncomfortable crouch.

The best I have been able to do so far, is to avoid arguments with only two “sides.” For their lack of imagination, and unwillingness to see the world around them. And while I want to continue doing this, I want to do more. I want to be part of the solution. Life isn’t a true of false test. I want to see the way forward enough that we can invite others to join us.

Step outside of the argument!  Life isn’t multiple choice.  What would it look like if we could be better than that?

What if we could??