I just finished four days sailing around the Isola d’Elba with one of the great Leader/Managers with whom I’ve had the privilege to work – Matthew Dunstan. You don’t get much clearer illustration of Leadership and Management than his family’s quest to sail around the world. To sail around the world in a life changing adventure is consummate Leadership. To do so with your young family and constrained financial resources is a feat of impeccable Management.
Spending the days with Rachel and Matt was like stepping into a scene from a film (eg. The Firm, Romancing the Stone), where the protagonists sail away into the sunset after their heroic ordeal. Matt’s ordeal was grappling with the increasingly stifling corporate life which rewarded bad behaviour and eschewed his creativity and insight. As we spoke about ‘cruising’ life I was wondering how people decide how much to embrace this life. What keeps people from stopping after a few exhilarating voyages? I thought that it might be nostalgia, missing favourite things, craving more space or convenience. But Matt thinks that the biggest blocker for people is the maintenance. They love the notion of cutting through the teal seas, but the grimy work of replacing steering bolts (which we had to do in the middle of the ocean when we were en route back to the main port to catch our flight) is what often puts people off.
I could identify with this response. I have too often observed the syndrome of the ‘Sailboat Prisoner’. Friends who purchased sailboats with lofty fantasies of weekend and holiday skimming across the seas. But when I ask them how their weekend of sailing went they say, ‘Well, I didn’t really get much sailing in as the boat had a lot of work I needed to do.’ If you don’t embrace the tinkering to fix the regular failures on a boat, then owning a yacht can be more burdensome albatross than soaring eagle.
Leaders plot the course for exciting destination; Managers maintain the rigging. Both together are needed for the adventure of a lifetime.