"We Can Adjust The Sails"

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." - Dolly Parton

I really appreciate the fact that Dolly is the one to say this quote. I'll admit I don't know much of her music or much about her in general, but I've come to learn that her childhood wasn't the easiest. I think our struggles through adversity tend to give us a hefty dose of perspective, and it helps us help others with the lessons we learn. I'd like to add to the metaphor regarding wind and sails. Though you may be stuck trying to sail through poor winds, at least your ship is still above water. If you've got that, you can pick a direction and start sailing. It may not be pretty but at least you're sailing. And that, my friends, is much better than being so angry at the wind you lose control of your ship and sink on down to Davy Jones' Locker.

It doesn't matter if you take the perfect ship out in perfect weather, on a perfect sea with a perfect crew; you are going to catch a wave. You can have all of the luck and skill in the universe but you will still be met with some kind of resistance somewhere down the line. It's important in these moments to learn how to adapt. There is a way to handle every situation, so long as it gets handled. 

I recently watched the Clint Eastwood film Heartbreak Ridge, where his (Eastwood's) character was tasked with training a group of marines. Their unofficial slogan became "improvise, adapt, overcome." This handful of marines was about the worst group of misfits you could imagine. Clint, however, was the salty dog who knew how to whip those fellas into shape (or something like that). After a long standoff between the two, the group finally decided Eastwood wasn't so bad. Eventually their unit is sent on a mission and they are faced with multiple perils which require them to change plans quickly if they wish to survive. 

Luckily for the vast majority of us, our changed plans don't mean the difference between life and death. I am a creature of habit. I really enjoy routines and I struggle when things don't go as planned. You might be thinking we all deal with that to some degree, and you'd be right. However, when I say I struggle, I mean I get put out if I make a plan to drink 128oz of water and I only get 127.9oz. Life should be so hard, huh?

One thing I've tried to focus on, and I've talked about before, is making the best of each moment. Things are going to happen. Plans will change. Status quo will change. Murphy has a law and it has a tendency to smack us in the face with a shovel from time to time. The ability to adapt to that change and take care of business one way or another is an incredibly valuable skill. Not only does it make you the person people can depend on to figure out a decision, it makes each decision far less stressful for you. Sometimes you have to improvise. Once you improvise, you can adapt. Once you adapt, well, you can overcome. That's the goal of each and every hardship we're faced with. OVERCOME. 


1 comment