Friday, March 23, 2012

How to sail faster than the wind

Imagine that you and the other members of your team are in a sailboat and you want to sail as fast as possible to a finish line downwind. The best strategy would be to set your sails to catch the wind, allowing it to simply push you straight downwind to the destination, right? Traveling as fast as the wind itself seems like a pretty smart plan.

But the smartest sailors will be celebrating their arrival long before you do and in a world of competition, that could mean trouble for you. What do they know that you don’t know? In her Tedx Talk, communication guru Nancy Duarte explained it this way, “You have to actually capture the resistance coming against you when you sail, but if you do it just right, your ship will actually sail faster than the wind itself.” But, how? By actually setting two asymmetrical sails at small angles against the apparent wind.

So what is the big idea here?

We constantly address life as a series of ‘either/or’ choices, when in reality ‘both/and’ solutions may harness more power and get us to the goal on time.  Some examples of seeming opposites that can be set as paired sails?
  • Ambition and Humility
  • Results and Relationships
  • Strength and Vulnerability
  • Endurance and Speed
  • Permanence and Transience
  • Your Idea and My Idea
  • Service and Price
  • Price and Quality
  • Visionary and Operational
  • Creative and Disciplined

Give up the either/or thinking and start finding ways to set two sails at once.  Your whole team is in the boat and they’ll win the race or lose it together.  Start linking seemingly opposing things and you just might find a faster way to the finish line!  And won’t it be sweet to have your celebration in full swing when your competition arrives at the finish line after you? 

(You can view Nancy Duarte's Tedx Talk where she uses her concept of sailing faster than the wind to explain how great communicators create transformative presentations below or at the link in the body of this blog).