Sailing — the wind in your face, the fresh air, the motion of the boat — is a wonderful sport. It can be relaxing and tranquil or exciting and adrenaline-pumping. It connects us with nature, and studies show that simply being in, on, or near water can make people calmer and improve their mental well-being. In addition, a growing body of evidence suggests that it lowers stress.
But time on the water isn’t always smooth sailing, and that’s a good thing for learning many valuable life lessons. Likewise, sailing offers many life lessons applicable to myriad situations. Continue reading to learn about seven life-long lessons learned from sailing for sailors of any age.
- The Path From Point A to Point B Is Rarely Linear
One of the first lessons in sailing is that you can’t always get from one point to the next in a direct line. If your desired endpoint is upwind, you must navigate to an alternative point for a long time before pointing back to your goal; this maneuver is called a tack.
Business and personal life also bear this out. A person’s goals are rarely easily attained by following a straight line. In sailing, taking the course less traveled often results in winning the race. Such strategic planning in life or a career offers the same effect.
- Staying Calm in a Crisis Wins the Day
Losing your head when things go wrong on a boat can make the situation significantly more challenging. Staying calm means taking time to assess the situation realistically and not allowing fear or stress to cloud your judgment. If you find yourself in a jam, don’t rush into action without thinking about what might happen next.
The same is true in life. It’s easy to panic when things go wrong, but panicking makes it more challenging to think rationally and make good decisions. Assessing the situation and asking for help if it’s needed can keep you from sinking.
- It’s All About Teamwork
Yes, having a great skipper is beneficial, but unless that person is sailing solo, they cannot win the race on their own. On a competitive crew, many different responsibilities are demanded of the team. The team must work together in unison to properly sail the boat quickly and precisely.
Working as a team member also propels you in life, whether in business or family life. But, as any coach will remind you, there’s no “I” in the word team.
- The Rewards Are Worth the Risks
In life, people are often faced with opportunities that will allow them to succeed and accomplish their goals. However, as with sailing, these opportunities also come with risks. You can ignore these risks, settle for a less satisfying outcome, or take a chance to achieve your goal.
The rewards associated with taking those risks are usually worth it if you consider them from the perspective of the value they could bring to your life. The point is that sports like sailing do not come without their fair share of dangers, but if done right, you can benefit greatly from this kind of experience.
- Giving Up Is Easy, but the Strong Persevere
One of the biggest lessons sailing can teach people is how to persevere against the odds. Even if you make tactical errors and find yourself behind, developing a new strategy is always an option instead of giving up.
Similar to life, it is easy to give up in the face of obstacles or what look to be insurmountable odds. Just as in sailing, we often do not have control over which way the wind is blowing or where our life is heading. What’s important is not to complain but to make appropriate adjustments and make the most of the hand you have been dealt. Often, the most successful people in life and business are not afraid of what they cannot control.
- Plan But Expect the Unexpected
Even if you’ve planned for everything, things don’t always go according to plan. For example, what happens if the weather changes faster than expected, forcing you into an unexpected tack? Or if your crew falls ill with something that can’t be treated at sea? Being able to deal with these situations will ensure that even when things take an unexpected turn, you’ll still make it home safely.
Life has its ups and downs and can easily veer from your plan. But, just as in sailing, being able to regroup in those situations can mean the difference between success and failure.
- Big Things are Measured in Small Increments
A primary lesson from sailing is that the little things matter the most. For sailors, understanding the intricacies of tying a knot, when to tack, or how to read the wind is crucial to safe and successful outcomes.
Just as in sailing, life takes a similar course. The little things matter most, whether it’s understanding the needs of your loved ones, reading your customer, or developing a new product. Those who are successful in life understand how to read the signs and make the appropriate adjustments.
Come Sail With Community Sailing of Colorado
Sailing can open up so many opportunities for life-long learning and adventure that it might just be the perfect hobby for you. If you find yourself drawn to sailing but don’t know where to start, Community Sailing of Colorado can help. We offer instruction for people of all skill levels and ages. So even if you’ve never sailed or learned how to race, check out our programs and come sail with us! Happy sailing!