I recently returned home from vacation in the British Virgin Islands. I still feel the rocking of the sailboat under my feet even after being on land for 3 days. It is a gentle reminder of the wonder of a magical place and an amazing experience.
The BVI is a place of remote, white-sandy coves, amazing sunsets and stories of pirates. It is a place where there seems to be no time, where “Island time” is a reality. I was captain, although that title is a radical over-statement of my experience and skill, and my crew was my wife, Linda, her brother, Mike and his wife, Bonnie. Mike and Bonnie had never been on a sailboat. Their version of cruising has always been Carnival Lines. I was a little concerned that our 41 foot Beneteau would be a bit disappointing given the absence of a casino, restaurant, swimming pool, movie theatre, shops and shows. We did, however, have provisions enough for 6 days and the Sr. Francis Drake Channel.
My work life is busy. I am a coach. I guide leaders to a place of greater happiness and peace, through helping them expand their leadership development skills through executive coaching,and in turn, allow them to help their executive leadership team achieve extraordinary results. I am usually up by 5 a.m. and on the road before 6 to miss the rush hour traffic to Virginia. Getting home is torturously slow fighting the evening rush. If I make it home by 6, I am lucky. A sailboat is so different. We motored out of Tortola in 85 degree weather (the temperature at home was 19 degrees), turned into the wind, hoisted the mainsail and fell off to a broad reach on our sail west. The boat makes so little noise. Just the sound of the water rushing against the sides and the repeated crashing of the bow as it rose and fell in the choppy seas. Here, you go as fast as the wind will allow. It is a place where you become part of what is, rather than living in the illusion that you control your own life. I settle in to the pace of being.
This is what I meant in a recent post, “the speed of the leader, the speed of the team.” My point was, as the leader of a learning organization, you set the pace by modeling openness, curiosity and learning. It doesn’t have to be fast. It should never be frantic. What if, instead, your set a pace that was powerful and productive, and brought everyone a sense of peace?
Our first night was spent on a mooring ball in Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke. The dingy ride to Foxy’s for a cheeseburger was the big event for the morning. A short taxi ride took us to Ivan’s Stress Free Bar in White Bay. Not many years ago Ivan’s bar had no bar tender. You made whatever you wanted and put your money in a can on the bar. How is that for relaxed? You never know what you will find in the islands. This time it was about 12 twenty-somethings in small bathing suits with loud music and too much alcohol. But, what is great about the islands is that there is room for everyone to be whomever they are and to do whatever they want to do. Truly, this is a lesson in diversity, acceptance and grace. Very disparate people are exceptionally friendly, helpful and kind. One young woman seemed quite eager to show us the small tattoo on her derrière she got at the Willie T. How is that for friendly?
The Baths on Virgin Gorda are amazing. The path through this gigantic rock formation empties out onto one of the most beautiful little coves anywhere on the planet. Life is so amazing. Nature is so spectacular. I am reminded of the grandeur of all that exists and how fortunate I am to wake up and see, hear, smell and taste it all. Life is such a precious gift. It is so easy to take it for granted; to pass through it without noticing.
I hope you get the opportunity to sail in the BVI. It reminds you to pray every day out of gratitude for nature, for family, for friends, for life. By the way, Linda, Mike and Bonnie all said that this was the trip of a lifetime!