Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sewing Sails

I went to the marina on Friday. the wind was really blowing: about 15 knots with gusts over 20. While I really wanted to go out, there were two criteria that had to be weighed. One: do I want to work that hard? Two: Is my boat up to the conditions.

While I would have enjoyed the experience, I had to to conclude there were a couple of issues with the boat that had the potential to create much more of an adventure than I was up for. specifically, I knew that my main sail had a couple of relatively small tears that could easily become quite large if I went out in this wind.

I reluctantly stripped the sails from the boat, folded them and took them home for mending. Saturday morning found me under a shade tree with a needle and thread to effect the repairs. As I mended, I reflected on the leadership lessons I was learning.

1. Steven Covey used the metaphor of "sharpening the saw" to illustrate the need we all have to stop work and renew ourselves. Just as a lumberjack must sharpen the ax or saw if he wants to continue to cut timber, we need to take time out to make sure we are as effective as we can be. In the long-term, the job will go much easier when all our tools are honed and maintained.

Sail repair is not glamorous, but keeping them mended will preserve them. Truth be told, I'd like a new sail. But, I'll nurse this one through another season with care. Rather than stressing them on Friday, I chose to reinforce them.Leaders need renewal. We must regularly take time out for the task to mend, heal, learn, recall and reinforce our abilities. By doing so, we'll be ready for the high winds.

2. I stuck myself with the needle. More than once. Even drew blood. Leader lesson? Mending can be painful. Renewal can be painful.The satisfaction in the end makes the pain fade away. Oh, and try not to bleed on the sail.

3. A good job finished well brings satisfaction. My stitches weren't exactly neat and uniform, or even in line. But they should hold. Knowing that I took time out to mend them gives me satisfaction, for I know, deep down, that it was the most important think I could do on Friday and Saturday morning if I am to enjoy the next afternoon sail.

Saturday afternoon, I bent the sails to the rig again. As we left the dock, the wind filled in at 12-15knots. And we sailed. confident that we and the sails were up to the task.

Leader do you need to take a time out today? To sew the sails? To sharpen the saw? To renew.


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