4 min read

Make Room For Small Moves

I was entrusted with the lives of my family and given the captain's hat.
Make Room For Small Moves
Photo by Matt Artz / Unsplash

This weekend, I had the chance to spend the day at sea with my family. We rented a boat in Montauk and cruised west along the Long Island sound. We were the small boat in the flow of Hamptons' ship traffic, so there were more than a few wake-inspired splash and spray moments soaking those brave enough to sit in the bow of our boat.

I was entrusted with the lives of my family and given the captain's hat. As a former bus driver, I take the helm of any vehicle with a great amount of seriousness, but especially when it includes my family.  And, after the week that I had last week, I was thrilled to have a mildly stressful task for eight hours on a Saturday. It meant I had no time to think about the previous week, I just had to/got to drive.

After a few hours at sea, we made our way through some inlets and passed some ferries shuttling cars between mainland Hamptons and our destination, Shelter Island. As we got closer to the dock where we were intending to stop of lunch, I got my first look at the parking situation. It looked like a classic car club meet up... on the ocean. There were boats that definitely cost more than most people's homes and a few that were worth more than a wealthy American's retirement account. And they all had professional captains.

And then there was our rented cruiser with me, the safe but novice captain at the helm. The staff at the dock gave me a little too much benefit of the doubt and seemed to be trying to communicate with me exclusively through head nods and some kind of secret hand symbols.

After I saw which slip they were trying to have me park the boat in, the one bold dock attendee that looked like Hamilton Porter from Sandlot shouted, "small moves on the wheel!" It took me a second to realize the full extent of what he was telling me.

As I'd been maneuvering my vessel in between the whose who of boats, I'd been making much bigger moves on the wheel than I needed and that was causing me to need to move a lot more than was actually necessary and feel a lot more stressed than I actually needed to feel. I was making big moves in drive and then equally big in reverse. I was forgetting how fluid my "road" was and how beautifully my boat could glide with only a small moves and just the right amount of power from the engine.

When I got back into the City today, I couldn't help but look at my week's agenda and to-do list and think, "small moves!" There are some absolutely incredible things in motion, but right now it is not about big moves and a lot of power on the throttle, it's about a steady hand and using the flow of the circumstances to maneuver smoothly into the next landing space for me and my vessel. It's not about revving my engine or showing my prowess in tough circumstances, it's about letting my vessel do what it was intended to do.

And that's hard when you've been out maneuvering others for decades. It's tough to just sit back and let your small moves make the big moves you've been waiting for because the small moves are happening in flow.

If you have any advice on operating in a fluid state and going with the flow, I would love to hear it!

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