Diving on Your Anchor


One of the saddest sights in my sailing experience was watching a 40-foot sailboat being lifted off the bottom of the harbor at Oswego.  The owner had spent the last several years preparing the boat for his retirement. He and his wife were a few months away from sailing to the Mediterranean.

A freak storm came through with high winds, and his mooring dragged.  A mooring is a big anchor that is designed to be permanently set in a harbor and NEVER drag.  The boat slowly worked it’s away across the harbor, tore another boat free (which also sank) and his retirement dream rode on the rocks for a few hours.  Eventually a huge hole was gouged in the boat below the waterline and it sank in 20 feet of water.  It was destroyed.

I love sailing.  We’ve lived on our boat for weeks in The Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River, between New York State and Canada.  It is a stunning area, with eighteen hundred granite islands, white birch & pine trees, and interesting towns to visit!

One of the great benefits of cruising is that you can “drop the hook” (anchor) and sleep overnight in any quiet little cove—for no cost.

If you read the online forums—one of the most popular topics is how to anchor, which is the best anchor, etc.  WHY is there so much emphasis on this topic?

When you lay down at night to sleep, (if you’re smart) you’re wondering, “did the anchor really lock into anything?  What if a storm comes up?  Where would we end up if the anchor drags?  If you wake up at 3 am and you hear the wind howling, you’ll wonder, “is the anchor set?”

Newbies don’t realize that an anchor can feel solid when it’s hooked in weeds, or sitting on a rocky bottom.  In light winds, it holds fine.  If the wind starts blowing– you’re in trouble!

There are many techniques for checking your anchor to see if it’s solidly “set”.  The safest one is to take a few minutes, put on a mask and dive down and LOOK AT IT! Be sure it’s buried in the sand or mud, fully locked in and solid.

What does this have to do with leadership and real life?

Many people don’t know how to anchor their lives.  They think if they’re popular, have spending money, a big retirement account, and many possessions– they’re safe.  The real test comes when the storms of life start howling.  If your life anchor is not set solidly, you’ll be pushed around by every circumstance, emotion, or any person who has a negative or positive attitude towards you.

The only solid anchor is based on your true self, which includes the truth about your value.  I encourage my clients to make an inventory of what they have to offer the world around them.  It’s amazing how long those lists can be, and how uplifting it can be to see the truth.

As humans, we tend to focus on today’s “emotional weather” and we take a beating.  Take some time to examine your foundations.  What inspires you?  What truths do you hold that guide your decisions?  We’re each unique and have value to bring to others.

If you’re the leader of a company, you might be spending too much time looking at the challenges, rather than focusing on all the strengths and future opportunities of the company.  If you’re a salesperson, you can become demoralized by a slow sales month and forget that last month you set a record for sales.

A final note: the Oswego boat that sank had an old engine block for a mooring anchor.  Sadly, they don’t work for this purpose.  He never knew it until it was too late.

Action points:

1-    Dive on your anchor.  Spend time thinking and listing out your true self characteristics, values, dreams and contributions.

2-    Make an inventory list of the champions in your life, your deepest values, all the good things you have to offer the world.

3-    Focus on this each day rather than ruminating solely on the challenges.

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