Seven Things I’ve Learned About Leadership from Captaining a Sailboat

(1) Know it all, but don’t do it all. Understand how everything works, ideally from experience. Study the charts, plot your course, avoid harm, and seek leverage. Intuit the boat so you can tease out its advantage. And read the elements like your native language. Then — use everything you know to wisely direct the work of others.

(2) Enjoy the rush but respect the elements. Know when to come back in.

(3) Your temperament sets the tone. Fearless in danger, focused in chaos, and purposeful in decisions. Learn to project courage and confidence whether or not you feel them. They are fuel to a crew.

(4) Listen to your crew, but be the captain. There’s wisdom in perspective, but it’s your job to decide. And never confuse camaraderie with favor. Captains marshall all assets for the good of the whole.

(5) Healthy and well can face any challenge. A highly disciplined and well-fed crew is a formidable force.

(6) Confront the majors; don’t sweat the minors. Work to create a self-healing culture. Most issues are self-correcting. But be swift to confront any threat that falls below the waterline.

(7) Learn from the adventures and disasters of others. Listen carefully, ask questions, and visualize scenarios. Vicarious learning is buried treasure. Be quick to dig.

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