How to Change Your Business Sails

by Robin Elliott on February 16, 2012

Jim Rohn suggests we set our sails differently in order to succeed in an ever changing world.  It’s  it’s not the wind – it’s the way we set our sails. Unlike geese, who instinctively fly south to warmer climes in the winter and really have no other choice, we humans are unique, in that we can change our lives and choices anytime we please. Of course, Mr. Rohn is right. But just how do we do that?

I sound like my grandson, Sebastian, when I show him my amateur magic tricks. He always responds with a wide-eyed, breathless, “Grandpa, how did you DO that?” I wish all my audiences were like that! But I digress. How DO we change and adjust our sails in order to take advantage of the winds of change, and sail happily to our Treasure Island instead of getting wrecked on the ruthless rocks of recessionary ruin? Four Steps.

First, we have to stop blaming the wind. Blame doesn’t prevent us from ending up on the reef. Blaming the government, the recession, our competition, your mother-in-law, the cost of living, your employees, and a myriad other things won’t get you one inch closer to your desired goal. It might make you feel better for a short while, but keep on doing that and you’ll end up wishing you had used that energy for more constructive things. Nobody really believes or cares about your excuses, anyway. And remember what George William Curtis said, “It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.”

Second, You need the right training. Reading a book or attending a seminar about golf doesn’t make you a pro; you need a coach who has been where you are and walked through that scary minefield you find yourself in, and thus can show you exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. And then he needs to keep you on track and hold you accountable. Too many of us are too egotistic and cheap to use a coach, or we make the dangerous mistake of choosing the wrong coach. So make sure you choose a coach is isn’t more lost and confused than you are. Conmen abound.

Third, take your coach’s advice and do what he recommends. I always tell my clients, “If you don’t intend to implement what I suggest, save your money.” Without action, advice is a waste of time.

Fourth, stick with your coach until you’ve got where to where you want to be. A coach isn’t some kinky fairy godmother that will sprinkle enchanted dust on the telephone, which you eagerly inhale and magically find yourself transported to your destination. You have to put the systems, solutions, and suggestions into practice. At some stage, you might think you have gleaned all the answers from your coach, but I guarantee you are very unlikely to put them into action, let along avoid getting stuck somewhere along the way, if you dispose of your coach too soon. Ask any gold medal athlete. Dennis Conner wrote, “My goal in sailing isn’t to be brilliant or flashy in individual races, just to be consistent over the long run.”

Finally, don’t despair: there is hope and assurance for those who share their problems with a wise mentor and act on his guidance. Louisa May Alcott said, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” A very  dangerous thing to do is to get a bad coach, and there are many of them, and even worse than that is to do nothing as you watch your business get blown onto the land. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.”

Robin Elliott

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