I recently read something very interesting written in 1777 by a Mr. William Hutchinson. The title was: A Treatise on Practical Seamanship.
Hutchinson talked about the difference between a good Helmsman and a bad one.
It has been said – and it is true – that a massive ship can be easily steered by a tiny helm. If you look at the huge cruise ships of our day – you will see that the rudder is very small compared to the rest of the ship.
Yet, that one small part controls all the rest. Of course, the Helmsman is the person at the helm – the one who gets to move that rudder about to make sure the ship is moving where it should.
In his article, Hutchinson points out that a bad Helmsman is always letting his boat get off course. If he sees that the boat is too far to the left, he overcompensates to the right. This takes a great deal of effort on his part and causes the ship to pitch and roll dangerously. Once the ship is on course again, the bad Helmsman is tired and lays off the helm for a bit to rest.
All too soon, he finds that the ship is well off course again and a new massive effort is required to get her right.
And so the process goes… back and forth, always requiring great effort. The result is a zig-zag, wasteful course that costs everyone time, money, effort, and safety.
On the other hand, a good Helmsman stays at the helm. There never is a need for great course corrections or massive efforts. Tiny adjustments here and there keep the ship on course. Sure, steady, straight, true.
Hutchinson says this about a good Helmsman…
“He commands and steers her steadily along, with the least helm, and trouble to himself.”
The result is a fast, effective, straight course that brings comfort, safety and prosperity.
You Are the Helmsman of Your Life
Last week I talked about the concept of Agency – the power and ability for you to think, feel, and act in any way you choose, at any time in your life.
This Invisible Force inside of you, makes you the sole Helmsman of your life.
The ship’s wheel is in your hands and you control the rudder.
My question for you today is this: How do you steer your life with the “least helm and trouble to yourself”?
In other words, what is the thing that moves the rudder, that in turn will move your ship of life?
And, how can you do it in the most effective, profitable, and enjoyable way possible?
Would you rather have a nice, steady course to success… instead of a zigzag, course that constantly demands herculean efforts to get nowhere?
If Agency is the power to command our ship of life and move it anywhere we want, then Asking is the force that steers the helm.
The questions you ask each day – consciously or unconsciously – is what defines your course in life.
I have found that the very most successful people in life have learned to do two things:
First, they are constantly asking questions in a conscious and concerted way.
Second, the questions they ask are of high quality and give them the maximum results out of life.
They are good Helmsmen who consistently, but easily, navigate their ships of life.
Three Questions to Stay on Course
Let me give you an example of a couple of great questions you can be asking yourself. By finding the answers to these questions… and by acting on them… you can get more success in your life, get it faster, keep it longer, and do it all with far less effort.
1. What is my primary purpose in life?
This is a question that you should really spend some time on and get a clear answer to. In some cases, you will need to ask the question often, frequently and over time.
But, in most cases, you will sense it immediately… the trick will be to have the courage to act on it. More often than not, people sense their primary purpose in life, but it feels overwhelming, out of reach, and impossible.
Of course it is actually well within your reach and possible… or you would not have imagined it. It just feels impossible because it is the very thing that will help you personally grow the most, do the most good in the world and bring you the most joy and happiness.
There will always be some resistance to greatness, because mighty trees are formed by strong winds. (but that’s another topic for another day…)
Now for the second question…
2. What do I want my results to look like as I fulfil my primary purpose?
What do you want out of life? And what does that look like?
One of my good friends and mentors – RC Peck – taught me another way to pose this question. He said, “If I was a fly on the wall and was in the room the day you ‘arrived’ and got everything in life you dreamed of, describe to me what I would see. How would it look, smell, feel, sound, etc…”
That’s a great third-party dissociation technique that you can use for all kinds questions. It helps your mind step away from the trees so you can see the forest with greater clarity.
You are the master of your ship. You can take it anywhere you’d like. There are no limits on joy, happiness, fulfilment, love, wealth, or health. You can always get more.
All it takes is steering your ship in the right course… and no course is barred from you. So, what will it be, Captain?
Here’s the final question…
3. What small, simple action can I take right now to get me a little closer to my purpose and my wants?
As Hutchinson so beautifully stated, the ship that reaches the harbor the fastest, easiest and safest, is not the one that zigs and zags and boasts of great effort on the Helmsman’s part… it’s the one that consistently and easily makes little course corrections all along the way.
This question drives to the heart of this idea. What are you going to do right now, today, in little, maybe even effortless ways, to say on course?
Life is constantly moving… you just need to stay on course and you’ll get there.
And that takes action. Not herculean efforts all the time… just daily, simple, consistent adjustments of the helm.
Where Will You Be in 12 Months?
Ask yourself this question: Where were you in life 12 months ago?
Back then you had dreams, goals, and aspirations.
Are you there yet?