The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

boating and business

I had a boating lesson today.  A long one.  Well, it took a long time, I guess I should say.

There was some guy there who looked like my husband, but with all the patience floating around without a life jacket, I can’t be sure about that guy’s identity. When he spoke, though, I listened.  Intently.

Here’s my secret:  I get so anxious when there are several boats speeding about pulling kids behind them on tubes and wakeboards.  The thought of a driver not paying attention and running over a downed skier almost makes the ride miserable. Or, worse, what if they don’t see our boat and slam into us?? My shoulders get higher, my pulse quickens…geez, I’m getting old.  This kind of thing used to never bother me.

Want more evidence of my aging at the lake?  When I see a boat full of young and tan guys and girls wearing ponytails and cute little suits, I think, Wonder who that is? like I might know them.  Then, I feel something touch my leg as the breeze blows the skirt on my bathing suit.  Oops. I probably don’t know them.  Well, I wonder if they babysit?

I digress…

So, the goal of today’s lesson was for me to learn how to get the boat in and out of the boat house (without tearing the whole thing down) and to learn to dock at the marina (without tearing the whole thing down).  For good measure, that guy with all the patience had me go under the bridge since it’s a tight squeeze.  In case you don’t know, it’s really important to let the canopy down so you don’t rip it off.  Just a little tidbit I picked up. 

In case you are wondering when you will get to the images in this post, the words “etiquette coach in a bathing suit” should squelch any subsequent musings.

Moving on…

All of this was complicated by the wind.  You can point left, put it in neutral and end up facing left-ish.  And, according to my teacher, any position that ends in -ish won’t cut it.  He was very strict on this point. You must have a plan and stick to it.  You have to know where you are headed, know which way the wind is blowing and commit.   

Now we are getting somewhere.  That’s what I tell my clients about business.  Let’s say you have just spotted your new department head at the end of the hall.  You can’t start walking toward him to be introduced and answer your cell phone halfway there.  That’s teenager-ish.  If you are committed to advancing your career or your business, you have to be committed to doing the things that will take you to that level.  You can’t speed up to a bridge, try to squeeze under it and rip off your canopy in the process.  That’s short-sighted-ish.  You have to know your environment and which way the wind is blowing.  If a co-worker is going through a personal tragedy, offer to back him up on assignments.  Be aware and make yourself relevant in the big picture.

By the end of my lesson, I was much more confident and relaxed.  I learned how to be in control of the situation and it was empowering!  Much like my use of business etiquette to navigate through any professional setting with ease, I used my new boating skills to get where I wanted to go comfortably.   And, I’m here to tell you…If I can learn to dock a boat at a busy marina in sweltering heat while my hair sticks up, you can learn to present yourself with enough tact and charm that your own mother would swoon.

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