Yesterday when I was writing this Note from the boat I didn't even imagine how appropriate it might be as I am guessing the emotions are running high today.
How assumptions and expectations can rock your boat?
It was a rainy summer day. There were a lot of passengers waiting on the pier to get on. At the front of the queue I’ve noticed a young couple. They took the window seat and bought a glass of prosecco each. Blissfully unaware of children running around them. When they’ve finished their drink, they put on waterproof clothing and headed to the top deck to admire the natural beauty of the Lake District.
On the exactly same trip there was a family of 6, grandparents, parents and 2 children. They were waiting at the back of the queue. By the time they got in, the boat was full, there were empty seats but only on the top deck. The children were screaming as they didn’t want to be out in the rain, although the top deck is sheltered. Grandparents fancied a hot drink but as there wasn’t a free table, they didn’t bother. Mum and Dad were ready for a glass of wine and a cold beer but as the bar is downstairs and there was a bit of a queue, they didn’t bother either. There was a lot of stress and arguing and by the time they settled in the trip was over.
Same day, same boat completely different experience caused by assumptions and expectations not always based on reality.
Here are some facts.
The Lake District is one of the wettest parts of England so it will rain even during summer.
The Lake cruises are in the top 10 visited attraction in the UK, there will be lots of tourists in the area.
Our boat holds over 500 passengers, the queues are unavoidable.
Summer school holidays are one of the busiest times of the year, there will be children running around enjoying themselves.
We make assumptions about people, work, family, holiday, politics etc., we then create expectations based on those assumptions. It’s like building a castle on sand.
Assuming does not equal knowing.
Don’t let these assumptions and expectations rock your boat.
What Sinks Your Boat?
This week’s Note from the boat is going to be slightly different as it’s not something I have experienced and believe me I am very grateful for that. It is related to a sinking boat.
Boat is a great metaphor for everyday life. You might think why do we need a metaphor for life when we are living it? I totally agree however metaphors can often highlight how we are living, how we deal with difficult situations etc. When you step into a metaphor you begin to realize that certain decisions are a recipe for disaster and yet in everyday life you carry on with those decisions.
I’m sure that this quote by an unknown author will sum it up for you.
“Boats don't sink because of the water around them; boats sink because of the water that gets in them. Don't let what's happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.”
What metaphors do you use and are they helpful?
There Can Only Be One Captain
There are 7 people working on our boat; captain, mate and 5 members of the crew. On the very first day of the season the captain and mate meet the crew. Quite often they have no idea who they are getting, there are no team bonding exercises. We go through all the necessary safety and emergency procedures and then straight on the water.
Anyone who has ever been employed would agree with me that you don’t usually have the luxury to pick your co-workers. It would also be very naïve to expect that you will become best friends. We are all individuals, we have a different upbringing, different beliefs, values, you name it. But all that doesn’t really matter when you are on the water. Only thing that matters is the fact that all 7 of us are responsible for the safety of 500 passengers and the boat itself.
You might think that the captain has the main responsibility, and you would be right. However, to land the boat safely requires great team work of at least 5 people. The captain needs to trust the crew and the crew needs to trust the captain. Do we need to be best friends? Of course not, but make no mistake, when it comes to landing the boat, we will follow the captain’s instructions.
How does that apply to real life? More than you think. This boat scenario could symbolize your wellbeing, your work environment, your family.
Let’s look for example at wellbeing. The crew could be your emotional, physical, mental and social wellbeing. Who is the captain? Who do you listen to when making important decisions? Is it your brain, your heart, your gut feeling or social media? Remember, the great captain listens to the crew, trusts them and knows that when the time comes to make that final call, the crew will fully support the captain.
Maintain The Balance of Choices
On our boat we have a little café, bar and souvenir shop. I have always believed that having lots of choices is much better than being limited. That belief was about to be shaken on one summer day.
The weather was beautiful, hot and sunny. The boat was packed with families, students from language schools, tourists from all over the world. I was busy serving and that’s when I’ve begun to notice the pattern – struggle with choices.
Some customers were so overwhelmed with the choices of chocolate bars that after 20 minutes of browsing they did not buy anything (bear in mind that some of our cruises are only 30 minutes).
Other clients would buy one chocolate bar and then come over and over again until they’ve tried every single bar. It was almost like they were worried that they would miss on something, if they did not try all of them.
Then there was another group of clients who came prepared with packed lunches and treats, they were sitting, eating their lunch and observing the growing queue at the till, then suddenly they felt the pressure of buying at least one treat from the boat.
So whenever you set a goal or create a wish list, ask yourself the following:
1. Is this what I want?
2. Do I need it?
3. Do I feel like I am missing on something by not getting it? If so, what am I truly missing?
4. Do I feel pressured by family, friends, colleagues, celebrities?
By answering those questions, you gain clarity and maintain the balance of choices. :-)
Keep an eye on the horizon
When driving a boat, you need to know the destination and you need to pick the route to get there. The rest is simple.
You create an imaginary line between the front of the boat and the point on the horizon you are heading to and steer the wheel to keep the alignment. Sounds simple but it can be tricky.
There can be obstacles in your way, you might need to temporarily change the direction and that’s not all.
The elements like wind and water can confuse you too. Sometimes you would stare at the lake and it feels like the whole boat is turning, causing you to steer in the opposite direction, this is when you need to stop and keep that eye on the horizon, ignoring any distractions.
Some days the water would be so calm and yet when you steer, the boat will not move, that’s because of the undercurrent.
Light can create optical illusions causing you to second guess your moves.
To rely on just one sense is not enough, you need to make full use of your visual, auditory and kinaesthetic skills and keep the focus on the horizon.
Do you recognise the similarities in setting and achieving your goals?