When the sailing is smooth, at some point it won’t be – the winds change, that’s what they do. And when you’re suddenly buffeted from a new direction, you take action. But what action? More sail or less? Port or starboard? Heave the anchor or abandon ship? It depends.
Your actions depend on your why. Regardless of wind or tide, your why points where it points and guides your actions. Much like magnetic north doesn’t move if you spin your compass, your long term why knows where it points. If the storm on the horizon is dead ahead, you go around it. But it’s a balance – deviate to skirt the storm, but do it with your long term destination in mind. If you know your long term why, the best course heading is clear.
Often you set sail without realizing you don’t have your why battened down and stowed. When you sail where you sailed last time, you know the landmarks and use them to navigate. You can unknowingly leave your why at the pier and still get to your destination. But when you’re blown out to sea and can no longer see the landmarks, your moral compass, your long term why, is the only way to tack and jibe toward your destination.
Before you set sail, it’s best to know why you’re in the boat..
Wait! Before you go.
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Mike Shipulski brings together people, culture, and tools to change engineering behavior. He writes daily on Twitter as @MikeShipulski and weekly on his blog Shipulski On Design.