Merge's Blog

A sailboat as a metaphor for continuous learning and workplace change

continuous learningChange in itself is not a bad thing; most of us can deal with change.  In fact, change is good.  It is what lets us accomplish great goals, reach new destinations, and create lasting legacies.  Change ensures continuous learning.  It is when change starts coming too frequently and too rapidly that it can become difficult.

Workplace change is a like a sailboat

A good metaphor for change in the workplace is that of a sailboat.  When you point your sailboat in the right direction and let the wind do the work, you will go to different and innovative places, sometimes breaking records in the process.  While the wind is what moves the sailboat forward, it can also turn into rough weather that can blow it off course.  It’s up to the skipper of the vessel to adjust the sails, change direction, and sometimes even switch to backup power.  But the skipper cannot do this alone.  The master of the boat is only as good as his or her crew.  If the crew isn’t motivated, or talking to one another, or working in tandem, the sailboat can come to a standstill, or even worse, run aground.

And you are the skipper who promotes continuous learning

Just as a sailboat uses wind power to move across the water, you can use the power of change to propel you and your department forward on new journeys towards improved and relevant objectives and milestones.  But a sailboat also needs to adjust its sails and its direction in response to changing currents and storms. And you must as well you to adapt and respond to unexpected obstacles in your journey.

As a leader you need to be a competent skipper who keeps an eye on weather conditions so as to set and reset to keep your sailboat on course.  And you also need to keep your crew motivated, talking to one another frequently so that they are working in tandem.  In the workplace, that means that you have to be a strong leader who can keep your high-performing and resilient team communicating and collaborating so that they can adapt to change and still achieve common goals.

The best captains are those who have undergone rigorous training and invested in practicing their skills.  The best leaders are those who have embraced a philosophy of continuous learning, and have invested in themselves and their people.

Are you a good skipper and a good leader?  What are you doing to adopt an attitude of continuous learning and to instill it in your people?  What are you doing to become a better leader?  I’d love to hear about what you’re doing.   Please share by adding your comment below.

Many of our regular blog readers will know that I am a lifelong champion for continuous learning.  In fact, the lobster is the metaphor I have used repeatedly.  Here is a past blog post explaining the lobster as a metaphor for continuous learning.  And a link to my book Why does the lobster cast off its shell?

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