This past Saturday I had the opportunity to do something for the first time. Sail a boat.
A friend of mine is basically “Hobie-Wan-Kenobi” and he had just returned from a few days of riding his Hobie on the Gulf of Mexico with his brother, also an experienced sailor. See the photo.
Our families enjoyed a Labor Day Weekend cookout at Lake Oconee, and Hobie-Wan brought his 14 foot sail boat.
My first mistake was showing any interest at all. Small talk was my intention. “You been sailing long?” “Who taught you how?” “Looks like fun.” Innocent comments that were certainly not meant to communicate, “Will you teach me how?” Me and my big mouth.
The next thing I knew we were heading away from the dock, my hand holding a steering mechanism (I won’t pretend I know what it is called) and my head ducking the sail as it moved back and forth across the boat.
Hobie Wan gave great instructions about turns and laying off the sail based on the wind direction and other important information. I did a lot of nodding and pretended to understand. Unfortunately, I must have seemed confident.
Immediately we turned the boat around and went back to the dock where Hobie Wan proceeded to climb out. Excited about heading up to the house for another hot dog I started to stand up myself. That’s when my friend went Herman Melville on me and gave the boat a push back toward the open water.
Before I could object the sail caught some wind and I was moving across the lake at a pretty good clip. “You’re doing great!” were the last words I heard.
The next 10 minutes are a blur. I did my best to remember Herman’s words, but I must admit the trip across the lake was awkward at best. After a few adjustments and mess ups, I made it to the other side, ducked, and turned for home without flipping the boat.
Feeling more confident with each gust of wind, the thought occurred to me, “I could actually get used to this.”
Then it happened. Just as I was about half way across the lake and beginning to think I would survive the excursion without going Gilligan and turning it into a three hour tour, the wind died.
It is amazing what goes through your mind when you are out on the open water by yourself.
“I wonder how dumb it would look if I just jumped in and pulled the boat back to the dock. It’s only a half mile and I’m a decent swimmer.”
“I wonder how big the catfish are in this lake?”
“Where are my kids with the Jet Ski when I need them?”
“Wonder if my wife put Herman up to this?”
“I wish Gilligan were here.”
You will be glad to know I made it back without the help of the Coast Guard. But not before I discovered a couple of leadership lessons.
Over the next couple of days I will tell you what I learned. Stay tuned . . .
When was the last time you had an adventure and felt challenged?
Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.