First a quote: “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” — Author unknown*
During my career, I’ve experienced more than six major corporate mergers, acquisitions, or restructurings as an insider but from multiple perspectives. For a couple of those transactions I was a member of the acquiring organization and for another couple I was a member of the acquired. All were fascinating, all featured a great deal of drama and a fair amount of displaced human capital. None were very much fun.
Those experiences help ignite my passion for the subject of change leadership. I am fascinated by the topic and still love exploring, learning and leading workshops around the subject of change.
During one of the mergers, between two very large retailers, I traveled around the country for three months delivering a presentation I called “No Land in Sight” to thousands of people whose careers were in some level of jeopardy. It was very rewarding work.
One of the presentation objectives was to help people understand the predictable psychological stages of change they were experiencing. The other was to provide them with coping skills and a sense of hope for the future. One of the most significant points might have been; that while none of us can direct the wind, we can all adjust our sails with a firm hand on the wheel.
I ended each of these presentations with a poem I memorized that was written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
One ship drives east and another drives west
With the very same winds that blow;
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That tells them the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate
As we voyage along through life;
‘Tis the set of the soul
That decides its goal
And not the calm or the strife. (or corporate merger, downsizing)
I don’t know what you see when you look in your crystal ball. I admit my crystal ball is quite hazy at best, however; I see massive amounts of change ahead in all our lives. We must all determine the will of our souls, determine our goals and set our sails for the future we decide.
How will you live, or lead, differently or better this coming week?
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean
- “To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
- “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward
- “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Seneca
- “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed to an uncharted land or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” – Helen Keller
- “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” ― Syrus Publilius
- “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” ― African Proverb
* This quote has been attributed to: Cora L. V. Hatch, Thomas Sheridan, George Whyte-Melville, A. B. Kendig, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Bertha Calloway, Jimmy Dean, Dolly Parton, and Thomas S. Monson