On our recent trip to Antarctica, we travelled on a small research ship, the Spirit of Enderby. A strong and resilient vessel, she brought us through the tough seas of the sub-Antarctic ocean, substantial pack ice, and into places a large cruise ship could never enter.
Our cabin consisted of a sleeping berth tucked into a closet-like enclosure, which we quickly learned to love, as it kept us from being tossed out of bed in times of heavy weather! As the ship rolled, we went from hitting our heads on one bulkhead to bracing our feet against the opposite. When it pitched, we became human rolling pins, side to side. After awhile, we had cores of steel!
During the first few days, we worked to accustom ourselves to the constant motion of the ship. Walking taught us the origin of the “drunken sailor” saying, as we obeyed commands to keep “one hand for yourself, one hand for the ship.” This meant always to hold on to a rail or wall, and not carry anything with two hands.
Sea sickness plagued many of our fellow passengers. We learned what worked for us (pressure bands, Bonine on the really bad days, and ginger lozenges).
We learned never to fill coffee cups more than half way, and to seize any reasonably calm sea for the opportunity to shower without being thrown around on a naked bruise hunting mission. We learned to walk. We learned to brace. We learned to live with the motion.
After awhile, we learned the real lesson: The ship is going to roll, so we might as well roll with it. There’s nothing you can do about it anyway!
And isn’t this lesson transferrable to real life and business? Sometimes storms come, and strong winds nearly blow you off your feet. Fighting the them results in sickness and stress, where rolling with them develops strong core muscles and greater balance. When the roll gets really bad, there’s nothing for it but to tie yourself down and rest, meditate, or listen to a good book.
Ultimately, if we stay on dry land, we avoid the discomfort and challenge presented by stormy seas. But we also miss out on the adventure, and on the joyful discoveries of the journey and its destination. So I pick the ship. Always.