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Guarding against negativity

I spent 18 months in the SA Navy, of which I spent 12 months on board SAS President Kruger. We sailed around the coast of SA quite regularly and even went to the USA for 2 months. On that trip, we sailed through the infamous Bermuda triangle and went through a storm lasting 14 hours with waves in excess of 10-15metres. Scary? For sure. But the more experienced sailors reminded us that this frigate was made for the stormy North seas and could navigate this storm with ease. And it did. Many years later it did sink during a naval exercise at sea when it crashed into the replenishment tanker SAS Tafelberg. Sadly, 11 lives were lost that day.

The reason I share this story? I was reminded of the story when I read the following, “An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.” It echoes the picture above.

We all have the daily challenge to not allow that which surrounds us to come into our “vessel” and cause our downfall or demise. (The vessel could be your business idea, enterprise or personal life)

Here are 4 thoughts about guarding your vessel from negativity.

  1. Check your vessels superstructure and keep it maintained. I recall that much time in the Navy wad devoted to scraping and chipping and keeping the metal of the ship well- guarded against corrosion. (Much to the chagrin of the sailors!)

This simply meant that every possible place where rust could invade on the ship was carefully monitored and maintained, to prevent holes and rot setting in.

In a similar way, negativity undetected and left alone, can set in and begin to corrode at our courage and can do quotient. Rather be careful to prevent its taking root in our thinking. Examine your thinking ruthlessly, and apply the necessary maintenance to get better perspective.

  1. Check for leaks regularly. This sounds similar to number 1, but is different. This means looking for any evidence of water in your vessel and responding quickly. The focus here is doing a check for water, rather than on the steel /wood structure of your vessel, and acting quickly should you detect any water.

I have found that by checking for negativity in my words and thinking, I am able to detect “leaks” before they become critical. When I find myself grumbling and murmuring, I take that as a sign to watch out; ship up and take action!

  1. Match your vessel with the “seas” you want to navigate. No one would seriously take on crossing False bay from Fish Hoek to say Strand in a child’s blow up toy. It was not designed for this and will inevitably sink. In a similar way, be realistic about your “vessels“ capacity to successfully navigate the “waters” you intend to enter. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the attrition rate of start- ups is so high……that they haven’t done sufficient due diligence and homework before launching. Having said this, if you have done your due diligence, prepared well and have built a viable business idea/model-then put confidence in the robustness of your vessel to weather the journey.
  1. Learn to lean on and value your support. The captain and key crew of the Kruger were experienced and competent. Having spent 8 months on board with them prior to the storm, I had come to know first-hand how competent they were. No person, entrepreneur or organisation gets to a place of sustained success without a strong supportive environment. That’s what they provided, and also what is vital for your own growth. Seek out and learn to integrate the vital support you receive from your “team”. (By the way, the CFE sees its support as a vital factor in helping young people to be sustainable in the long run!)

Here’s too many more ships sailing into new territory.


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