Back in the 1990s, my wife and I went on a sailing holiday in the Mediterranean. For the first week, we stayed in an hotel and spent each day learning to sail a 35-foot yacht. The weather was glorious; sun, heat and no wind. The smooth, still sea had been painted with a single brush of azure.

During the second week, we set up our flotilla of 10 boats and sailed to a number of Greek islands. We had a lead yacht crewed by our tutors. On the fourth day, however, the tutors said that we could sail the next 24 hours without them. They would meet us in just over a day’s time at our final destination.

That’s when the problems started.

Overnight, the wind appeared from nowhere. By the middle of the following morning, we were doing our best to negotiate a trip back to base in a Force 7 wind of up to 40 mph.

Where the sea had previously been like glass, waves were now crashing around and over the boat. Water was everywhere and we struggled to move down the boat to reef the sales. Visibility was also low and it was hard to work out exactly where we were and the direction we needed to travel.

In the end, we made it to back to our home port, but two of the boats needed to be rescued by the local coastguard. The experience was exciting and scary in equal measure.

The next day we went out sailing again. The wind had died down, but it was still blowing at around 20 mph. What was interesting was that our sailing skills had improved immeasurably from just two days before. Far from being fazed, we enjoyed sailing the yacht in a stiffish breeze. The previous day’s challenges had improved our sailing abilities and increased our enjoyment.

As the saying goes, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

Over the past six months, you will most likely have navigated some of the most challenging seas of your career. But you will also have learned more about yourself, your team and your organization than you could possibly have imagined.

The challenges will continue, but now is a good time to sit down with your team and review what you have learned so far. That way, you can embed the new, productive ways you’ve worked to improve communication, build engagement and commitment and accelerate decision-making and delivery, so that your business is able to safely and successfully sail through the next set of storms that are coming up over the horizon.

Off The Record: This is the Sea by The Waterboys

These things you keep, you’d better throw them away

You want to turn your back on your soul-less days

Once you were tethered, now you are free

Once you tethered, well now you are free

That was the river

This is the sea

What’s Your Post-Covid Business Strategy?

Find out how we’ve helped Mentholatum, the owner of Deep Heat, to re-focus their strategy, identify new growth opportunities and get on the front foot to succeed in the post-covid world

In just a few short weeks, Stuart helped us to cut through the uncertainty created by the pandemic and create a new, refreshed strategic plan that will enable us to rapidly bounce back from the downturn and accelerate the growth of our sales, market share and profits.

Rob Yateman, Managing Director, Mentholatum UK

Coronavirus White Papers

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How to grow profits and lead your markets through the coronavirus economic crisis

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 The crisis has led to faster, more agile decision-making and action across businesses. Applying six key principles can help leaders embed these changes to create ‘agility for life’

Succeeding Beyond The Coronavirus Pandemic

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