Saturday, March 06, 2021

Sailboat and Life Journey

Once, I met a very successful person during one of the programmes. He was holding a great position in the multinational company. Normally when you meet such people, they give you a different perception. They ignore you; they feel superior to you and they carry the pride on their collar. They carry their attitude with them. They name that attitude as an executive presence. They carry the title they hold with them and flaunt it. Content is immaterial for them. They are respected because of the organization and their position.

However, the person to whom I met was totally different. He was well known in the professional sphere. He was genuine and authentic. He was a humble and kind person. You can see the honesty in his eyes and feeling of self- fulfillment on his face. He was very much comfortable while speaking with others and making others comfortable with his smiling look. We exchanged business cards, started interacting regularly and became good friends.  

Once I asked him, “Everybody would aspire to become like you. You are holding such a big office of the organization, still you look so cool.”

He replied, “The organization, the position I am holding is not permanent. It will go away on any day; I want people to know me for my personal qualities and not because of the organization and position I hold.”

I realized that he never shied away to tell if he didn't know something. He believed in “knowledge is the king.” He was respected for his knowledge along with his role, however still he used to listen like a student. Perhaps he might have known a lot of things, but he always gave the feeling to the next person that he was listening to him for the first time. This is an amazing quality, I must say. Most of the time, we have a comment or opinion when we know something. We tend to interrupt the conversation in such situations.        

He mentioned, “Our life is like a sailboat.”  

After looking at my confused face, he said, “Sailboat metaphor attempts to address human functioning from a holistic perspective, taking into account the many factors, both positive and negative, that influence well-being and fruitful life for self and others.”  

“Now you confused me more.” I said,

“Let me explain to you.” He took a pause and said, “Normally sailboats symbolize journey and adventure. Our life is not different from that. Right?”

I nodded in agreement.

“When we sail the boat, means when we live the life, there are different elements of that.”

“Like?” I asked.

“Like? Like, Sailboats sails on water, water in our journey means reality, the situation, the circumstances we live in.”

“Sailboat has a steering wheel; it means directions we want to take. These are also our wants, the way life we live, values we follow.”  

“This is interesting.” I was curious.

“Of course, indeed, we have our aspirations, destination in life. Sailboats are not waterproof always, possibly there are a lot of leakages. Those leakages are our shortcomings.”


“Be patient, I will explain to you other elements as well, but let’s order coffee first,” He waived towards the waiter. Waiter was busy with another customer who was scolding him for some reasons. The waiter was patiently trying to calm the customer. He politely offered him something. The customer looked relieved. After a few minutes he came to us.

“Sorry sir, we have some issues with deliveries. Shortage of manpower.” He smiled.  

We ordered coffee and some snacks. After a few minutes of pause, our conversation started.

“Did you observe the irritated customer at the next table and the way this guy managed the situation?” He asked me.


“There will always be uncontrollable situations, everybody has some strength to deal with those situations. So, when you sail the sailboat, weather is another element which resonates to uncontrollable circumstances. Weather can spoil your journey. However, Sailboats have sails which navigate as per the weather. Every human has their sails, i.e. strength.  and if you have a sail and use those sails properly you can navigate easily in any unfavourable situations. Same as that waiter did.”

Meanwhile our coffee and snacks were served.  

He continued, “Every sailor has their compass with them. We also have this with us. Internal feedback, feelings, emotions, intuition are those compasses for us. And finally, there are other sailboats in the sea and those are other people, peers, family members and friends. Sometimes they support and sometimes not. You have to establish a relationship with them. During the journey you have to take the right people with you”. 

“Mind-blowing sir. This is an amazing way to explain things.” I stood up, raised my hands and bowed in front of the great wise man.  

He smiled, “In the journey of life, I use these elements to make my life meaningful”. 

“Inspiring!” I said.

“At this moment, snacks and one more coffee are the most important elements of our life.”  we laughed. 

We continued our conversation in detail. It was my unpaid mentoring session with the great leader of the industry. 

(The story is written by Vinod Bidwaik, based on the concept of sailboat developed by Alberts, H.J.E.M. (2016). The Sailboat. Maastricht: Positive Psychology Program)

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkart and BookGanga 


Medha Jere said...


Nitin Shinde said...

Good Article 😊

Unknown said...

Very nice article sir. Truly you are very good writer....Lots of things got to learn through this article.....

Unknown said...

Beautifully written 😃😃

Unknown said...

Very aptly described to our lives and situations, and the picture describes the entire cycle. Great learning for me.

You may also like these.. please read