Set the right course for your business

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

By Elaine Lankford

For those who love the water, sailing can be one of the most enjoyable pastimes there is.

Sailors must learn to navigate the waters they sail with precision. But navigation begins before the sailor takes the helm of the ship, even before he gets on board.


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True navigation involves detailed planning. The voyage is plotted from start to finish, possible dangers are acknowledged and accounted for and the crew is well trained and prepared.

Leaders should understand the Law of Navigation. Failure to navigate the course in which our organization needs to go in order to be successful and prosperous can mean the death of the organization.

I want to emphasize two main principles found in “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” regarding the Law of Navigation, which states: Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.

First, navigators see the trip ahead. A true leader casts the vision of where he or she wants to take the company and already has seen the vision play out. Adjustments will be made to the plan, but the overall vision remains intact.

When Thomas Edison began to work on improving the light bulb, I imagine he envisioned houses lit up by light bulbs that lasted for hours. He might have even envisioned lights along the road, making an evening walk more enjoyable. I am sure his vision did not include the 1,000 attempts it took to succeed.

How did a man who had experienced so much failure navigate the situation? He continued to see long-lasting light breaking the darkness in every home.

Leroy Eims stated: “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others do.”

Second, navigators make sure their conclusions represent both faith and fact. Last fall, I led a group of ladies in organizing a one-day women’s event. In the beginning, I cast the vision of what this event was for and what it should accomplish. Then we went to work.

We started by outlining the event elements: music, speakers and quiet time. Then we looked at potential capacity — 300. We worked the details of the event week by week to ensure it would go as smoothly as possible.

We had faith through the entire process that we would reach a significant number of women. We were realistic, however, when two weeks out the event had sold less than 50 tickets. We adjusted our numbers but kept the vision in front of us.

The day of the event, more than 90 ladies participated. In the end, as we looked over the prayer requests left after the conclusion of the event, we knew we had accomplished what we set out to do. We had touched the lives of a significant number of women.

“Balancing optimism and realism, intuition and planning, faith and fact can be very difficult,” John Maxwell has said. “But that’s what it takes to be effective as a navigating leader.”

What course are you charting today? What do you see that no one else sees, and are you drawing conclusions based on faith and fact? Remember, plot the course, acknowledge the risks, and prepare the crew. Here’s to smooth sailing!

Elaine Lankford is a John Maxwell certified coach, teacher, trainer and speaker. She is the founder of Transforming Love Ministries and a board member of the Christian Business Coalition of Hampton Roads. Replies can be sent to