My flight landed in Grand Cayman at 3:05 yesterday afternoon. Since my schedule is packed with meetings for today and tomorrow, I knew I only had a short window of beach time on this visit. I managed to breeze through immigration, the car rental and hotel check-in (at the amazing Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman), and I was renting a Hobie Wave sailboat by 4:15.
The wind was dying, and the sun was waning, but I was really enjoying myself. As I sailed a little farther out from shore, I was treated to some ocassional gusts of wind that had the catamaran moving pretty quickly. The gusts would die, and then return, but the unevenness didn’t bother me. After all, the calm moments let me just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
During one of those lighter winds, I had the sheet (the rope that is connected to the sail) jammed into a cleat, which pinches the sheet between two cams so you don’t have to hold it all the time. Suddenly, a strong wind came up and started to put the boat up on one pontoon. Actually, this is where the fun begins, and I started to get myself in position for some real sailing. But, the wind came on pretty strong, and I couldn’t get the sheet out of the cleat. Before I knew it, I was REALLY up on one pontoon, and the Hobie Wave tipped over.
No real problem – Sam and Dave from the Ritz-Carlton’s watersports operation shot out in their powerboat, and we got the boat up, and me sailing, in minutes. But what an interesting lesson.
The first thing I said to myself was that the wind didn’t tip me. I tipped myself. Gusts of wind will come along, just like bad economic conditions will come along, or new competitors will come along. We can’t control the weather, and there are many market conditions we can’t control.
The key is to be ready to adjust to the wind. If I’d been more alert, I could have used this wind to great advantage, but instead, I tipped over.
Enjoy the wind, but always be ready for it to change. When it does, act so it works to your advantage. It’s great that 2009 is almost over– most businesses will not look back on 2009 fondly. But 2010 will bring with it many strange winds. Don’t get your sheet stuck in the cleat.