A waypoint is a GPS navigational point of every single location on earth, the vector of latitude and longitude. The location under your feet has a waypoint. Your home has a waypoint. A departing dock has a waypoint. Hawaii has a waypoint. The island or finish line ahead of you have a waypoint to aim for. Your destination waypoint determines your course and guides your way.
Without a waypoint to aim toward, a boat will drift off course and even shipwreck on the rocks. People do it all the time in their lives and marriages. Businesses can too. Fixing your course with a destination waypoint makes all the difference. It reduces wasted time and troubles of getting off course. It helps to mark progress along the way. It even shapes behavior. If you are aiming for a happy marriage, ship mates or business team, then good seamanship and character is required—not optional.
These four waypoints will help keep your team on course to success.
Know where you are going
Be clear on your goal. Plot your course. Track the progress to your goal daily. Where is your business going? What is the ultimate goal, product or service? How clear is this objective to your team? (On a personal level, how clear are the goals in your life and relationships?) Every person and team needs a destination to aim toward.
In any sailboat race, the most important waypoint for everyone is the finish line. Every activity on the boat is defined by that one objective—to get to the finish line as fast and effectively as possible. If certain activities don’t contribute to the goal, throw it away. In the Volvo Round the World races, sailors cut their toothbrushes in half to save weight on the boat. To succeed in business, marriage or health, a clear goal will shape your course and behavior.
The one constant in sailing is change. Conditions change. Winds change, from steady to howling to dead calm and back again. Currents change. Crew members and skippers change, come and go, and so do the boats. Every sail has unexpected surprises. Don’t be surprised—expect it before leaving the dock. Your standing rigging may snap, a sail may rip, and the mainsheet breaks. Worst of all, someone could forget to bring the snacks! Adjust your expectations and your attitude. The currents in business change all the time. Anticipate change and be ready to adjust when it happens. Flexible teams will beat rigid teams every time.
Have good seamanship
Whether you are married or single, everyone on a boat is a mate. You may have ten or twenty other mates on board. Be a good mate. Mates that are self-centered, lazy, complaining, demanding, critical or moody will ruin happy crews or happy marriages. Good seamanship offers help, cooperates, communicates clearly, and leaves bad moods at the dock. Encouragement, positive feedback, flexibility and enthusiasm contribute to everyone’s performance.
Never give up
If you ever fall behind in a race—join the club. Every amateur and professional sailor has been behind in races. When this happens, keep hope alive. Keep sailing on. You never know if the boat ahead of you will snag their spinnaker or hit a whale. You never know if your course turns out to be faster than theirs. And If you are ever in the doldrums (the wind stops), and your boat isn’t moving, remember that everyone else is in the doldrums too. Try to squeeze out any advantage whatsoever. Even an extra ¼ mile per hour can make the difference to a win. And if you ever lose a race, sign up for the next. As two-time America’s Cup winner Dennis Conner once told me, he never loses even when he loses. “We don’t think of it as losing, because we just gained more experience and knowledge that will help us in the next race. Losses are still wins.” Stay the course. Never give up until you reach your goal.
Sailing is one of the most enjoyable experiences known to mankind. A boat on a vast ocean has meant adventure and mystery throughout the ages. Make your business and life a similar adventure. Contribute daily to your team. Add your unique gifts and talents to all your mates. Stay fixed on your waypoint. Set your course to success. Fair Winds to you and your team.
Rick Rupp, CEO, Chief Enthusiasm Officer