By: Lisa Slagle
One of my friends is a teacher at a local therapeutic boarding school. She often shares hilarious stories about the crass, unruly, or shocking teenage one-liners she heard that day and how she did or did not choose to react. I’m pretty sure that if she didn’t have a terrific sense of humor, her job would be much more difficult to return to day after day. Instead, she just laughs about it.
I really admire my friend’s attitude, and I asked her how she maintains it. Her answer was great.
She quickly answered, “Teaching is like a boat. Really, my only job is to keep the boat steady. You just deal with what has to be dealt with when something starts to rock it. If it’s rocking one way, you deal with it. If it starts to rock the other way, you go to that part of the boat, and stop it from rocking over there. You don’t have time for emotions. You just take care of things knowing that the boat is not going to level itself out on its own.”
This is why my friend is a great teacher. She can take something complicated and make it easy to understand. Better yet, this whole boat metaphor translates perfectly to business.
Your business is your boat, and as the owner, your job is to keep it level.
Whether the internet goes down, your employee is in a terrible mood, or your client is not responding to your emails, you deal with it one scenario at a time to try to maintain a steady course.
(The real trick of it is to know what you’re steering toward, but that’s a whole other story.)
We had a few days last week where our Wheelie boat was dance partying on open water.
At one point, all I wanted to do was take a long lunch and go ride my bike until I felt less crazy, but instead, I took a deep breath and remembered what my friend said about keeping the boat steady.
The next day, I got to work at 6:30 in the morning, determined to kennel train my puppy before anyone else made it to the office. I threw a toy in his kennel and he chased it in there, so I closed the door and sat on the floor next to him with my laptop and noise-canceling headphones. He yelped a little bit, but I ignored him and started answering the extensive stack of unread emails. My puppy stopped barking, and stared at me sleepily.
I looked around the office. Dan and Amanda’s new desks look awesome, and they’re stoked about having more personal space. Totally worth the effort of getting them into our third story office. Next, I adapted to our clients’ change in directions, figuring out how to creative direct the changes and what my team and I needed to do to navigate the directional shift to still hit their deadlines.
Meanwhile, my puppy slept peacefully, so I crept away from the floor and up to my desk. By the time Dan and Amanda got to work at 8am, the boat was almost steady. Waters were calming down. I asked them for help with what was left, and we got everything taken care of by the end of the day. It certainly helps to have a great crew.
And our office puppy went in and out of his kennel all day with little to no barking.
I’m proud of all of us this week. Our little Wheelie boat is a nice place to be.
What’s happening with your business boat?
Where is it rocking?
How can you smooth its course?
That wasn't too painfully nerdy, right?
If you'd like to sit down and talk to us about sailing a boat, we won't have anything helpful to say. However, we would love to geek out with you about your business and its creative needs. Just hit the orange words below:
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