On the other hand, it is also equipped with a set of sails. These flexible sheets extend high above the boat and capture the energy of the wind. A sailboat with its sails in place, but without a keel, would be tossed about, capriciously sensitive to every ebb and flow of breeze. It certainly couldn’t make any intentional progress because it would be subject to the vagaries of the wind.
However, when you equip the boat with a keel and a set of sails something magical happens. The force of the keel to hold the boat in place works against the force of the sail to drive it onward, and the sailboat becomes steerable, moving forward at multiple angles to the wind and almost directly into it. It is the dynamic tension between the forces that hold it back and the forces the move it that allow it to be steered and moving in intentional directions.
That same idea can be applied to our professional lives and our careers. There are forces that hold us back and keep us on track and opposing forces that drive us forward. The forces that hold us back provide stability and support and anchor parts of our business and lives in unchanging commitments. The forces that move us forward provide energy and power to change and adjust our efforts.
Managing a business or a career through these turbulent times requires the intentional acquisition and manifestation of certain disciplines, character traits, and practices that act like keels. They hold us down and provide stability in a chaotic world. At the same time, we need to build disciplines, competencies, and processes that act like sails for our lives and businesses. These provide us the ability to act quickly and power us forward.
I’m proposing these five keels that we should intentionally build into our characters and our corporate culture if we are going to successfully navigate these chaotic and turbulent times. These are processes, principles, and character traits that hold us down.
- An articulated vision or purpose.
- The discipline of regular reflections and planning.
- The discipline of rational thinking.
- An examined spirituality.
- Adherence to an unmoving set of ethics.
And, on the other side of the ship, I’d propose these six sails that empower us to move forward quickly and intentionally.
- An acceptance of personal responsibility.
- An attitude of openness.
- A propensity to take risks.
- The discipline of continuous learning.
- A focus on strengths.
- The habit of regularly prioritizing and focusing.
If we are going to navigate through these complex, rapidly changing times, we need to build these sails and keels into our organizations and our personal character.
Over the next couple of months, I’ll be drilling deeper into each of these keels and sails. Stay tuned.
Thanks for your insights, Ali. As our turbulent world produces more spontaneity, I’m not sure that is a good thing.
Hi David, this is an interesting read. I agree with you is flooded with new changes and their new choices. More variety means more entropy and spontaneity increases accordingly.
What you concluded with makes perfect sense “The secret is in the dynamic tension between two opposing forces”. It is quite interesting. In my new post submitted to BIZCATALYST is on leaders growing on two opposite directions and performing two heavy and light duties. We live in a world shifting towards more spontaneity and we still keep the need to keep our balance between the two opposing directions.