According to Thomas Aquinas, if the highest aim of a captain was to preserve the ship, they would keep it in port forever. If you watch, hear or read the news you will have heard the term 'road map' and economists speaking of 'headwinds'. Politicians require 'leeway' in their quest to hit (or miss in most cases) budget predictions. Navigating change in turbulent times is becoming essential for great leaders.
"The best-laid schemes of mice and men go often awry."
Robert Burns, 1785
However, I believe that the term 'map' is inappropriate; a nautical chart is more useful than a map in this context. Being a Yachtmaster as well as a coach, I know that charts provide detailed information on hidden dangers to navigation. Maps provide no information about the condition of a road. Most coaches will present you with a map for your dreams - it might be worth considering this:
We think of dreams as things most people don't get to do or luxuries reserved for individuals who are privileged, wealthy, or well connected. Then we are asked to draw up a map to guide us to this unknown destination to get these things. It really doesn't make sense.
At sea, flying and in life you can be off course more than 90% of the time, experience regular setbacks, and still accomplish your goals and dreams.
What is interesting to observe in clients, is the mindset you need to achieve your dreams. The problem isn't getting off-course. Indeed that is a necessary and even welcome part of life. The problem is failing to correct (in sailing terms, making a course made good). Your path in life will not be a straight You will always be veering to the left, then right, and back left again. But as long as you can recognise that you have gotten off course and take some corrective action, you will be okay.
In sailing, 'the forces' pushing you off course include the wind, tides and currents. Leeway is the amount of drift motion to leeward of an object floating in the water caused by the component of the wind vector that is perpendicular to the object's forward motion.
Consider driving to some destination, with your GPS guiding you. It turns out that one of the main roads you were going to take is under construction, and you can't go that way. Despite your frustration, the GPS begins 'recalculating'. With its directions, you take some other roads you are unfamiliar with, but end up at your destination.
Now consider an aeroplane flying across the Atlantic; because it is moving so quickly, the smallest deviation from its flight path could lead to the plane being way off-course. Luckily, it has an internal guidance system. When the plane starts veering off track, this guidance system kicks in and helps make the adjustment necessary to get back on its path. Most flights will be off-course for over 90% of their duration.
We are all starting from different places, for different reasons, with varying levels of work required to get from A to B. Having a internal guidance system will help. However, leading in turbulent times requires guidance versatility, decisiveness, influence, resilience and courage.
The business environment is dynamic and complex, as well as chaotic. Multiple stakeholders have divergent perspectives, demands and expectations. External political, bureaucratic, social and economic forces challenge organisational vision and strategic aim and intent. That’s why a chart can help, by asking better questions about your course made good and the neccessary leeway required.
Change is the new normal for individuals and organisations. How you and others behave and respond to change and external forces will create opportunities to demonstrate new ways of leading and managing within your organisation. That means you need a new methodology and a chart to understanding the forces that drive us off course.
Then you can counter the effects of leeway (and other forces) by knowing:
You can't control your future - but you can plot a course with information about the forces that exist and make adjustments to the course.
Knowing where you are now is really important; but knowing where you want to go is vital.
The doing is more important than the dreaming. Plot your course carefully.
Knowing your why, your purpose and your destination, is the starting point for success. The chart will then be easier to navigate.
Understanding the dangers seen on the chart, will allow you to cast off and leave your safe port or harbour, to achieve your dreams.
In the course of your life, you may very well spend more of your time off-course than having things go according to plan on your own chart. As long as you can correct once you have recognised that you are off-course, you will make steady progress.
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