Have you ever felt like you were sinking? You are so busy with work, running around after the children, worrying about paying the bills, maintaining the family home, volunteering on the P&C that you feel like you are treading water with your head just breaking the surface. Everything seems out of balance and your centre of gravity is off.
Building a ship is like building a great life. If you don’t get the centre of gravity right you will sink like a ship
Getting the centre of gravity right in shipbuilding is paramount to launching a ship that floats. Many a naval architect has got it wrong only to find the ship moving down the slipway into the water and quickly either lists heavily to one side, or worst still sinks to the bottom before it even goes on its maiden voyage.
Shipbuilding provides a great analogy for life.
To build a ship you need a design and design checks, a plan, materials, resources and time to put it all together. Likewise to ensure a life that floats you need the same things. Most people don’t have one or more these elements and much of the time life is pretty hit and miss with people finding themselves in deep water on a leaky boat and in crisis mode where emergency help is required.
There are 5 basic stages to building a ship and your life:
Stage 1 – Design with the Life of Type in mind
In ship design, “Life of Type” means the expected lifespan of the vessel that is being designed and built. The Huon Class Minehunter vessels, for example, built in the late 1990’s in Newcastle were designed with an expected lifespan of 20 years.
This is important to understand up front because knowing how long the ship needs to be in service guides decisions along the way about the design, materials used, how it is to be maintained, the types of equipment chosen and other things to keep it a functioning ship for the intended period . Knowing how long something needs to last takes into account choices around maintainability and cost of maintenance.
Now as humans we don’t really know how long we will actually live for, yet statistics say that the average lifespan of Australians in now 82 years compared to 75 years in 1990. In the meantime 65 is still the official retirement age in Australia. This means we are living longer than ever before and will typically be in “retirement” years for 10 – 25 years (longer for some) before we finally take our last breath.
That means for an additional 10 - 25 years past your working life you will need time, relationships, energy and finances that will last for your length of life.
The ship design stage is where the big picture is laid out. The long term vision of what you want the vessel to do and how long it is to last. The Minehunter vessels had to operate in tropical conditions be suited to travel long distances, be stable and effective and have low magnetic and acoustic signatures with high shock resistance.
In terms of your life design, consider:
Many of you will be so caught up in the day to day pressure of time, relationships and finances that you may not be making choices that really support how many years you will actually live for.
Where do you want to be in the next 10, 20, 30 years? What decisions and choices are you making now that will support you for the full length of your life?
Stage 2 – Planning and Possibility Thinking
In shipbuilding there is always a plan. The plan starts from when the expected delivery date is and works backwards. Each step along the way takes into account what needs to be done first, how long each task will take and what the interdependencies are. This information triggers the dates that material need to be purchased, when to bring on the people to do the work and how cash flow will be maintained during the life of the project.
Planning is an ongoing activity until the ship is finally delivered and encompasses the plan, do check cycle as things change, material is unavailable and the build progresses.Check out a previous post on Planning Is Possibility Thinking - 4 Keys To Being Possibility Ready for insights into the benefits of putting some sort of thumbnail plan in place in order for you to realise your goals and dreams.Stage 3 – Start building – Laying the Foundations
Once you know what you are aiming for and you have a plan, you can start to lay down the fundamental building blocks for creating and realising the life you are excited about living.
In shipbuilding the “laying of the keel” is traditionally an event worthy of celebration. The keel is the backbone and foundation for all that is to come after. It is not until the keel is laid, the frames are up, and the bulkheads are in that you can recognise that what you are building is a ship or a boat. Without these foundations the ship simply won’t float at the end.
In life it is the same. There are some fundamentals habits that support the long term vision you have for your life that you imagined in Stage 1.
What habits do you have NOW that support where you want to be in 10 years’ time?
Stage 4 – Fitting out
In shipbuilding terms, the stage where the ship really starts to come to life is called the “fit out” stage. This is where all the services are added: engines are installed, pipework is fitted, electrical cables are run, and communication systems, galley and sleeping quarters are installed. Everything that is required to provide power, energy and comfort is added.
In your life comparison, this supports your long term commitment to developing your time, relationships and finances to reach your goals and vision for your life. It gives you the energy and develops your knowledge to keep going.
What habits do you have NOW that support where you want to be in 10 years time?
Stage 5 – Add the specialist equipment
In the seeming chaos of building a complex ship is a plan. At some point during the plan a whole set of specialist equipment needs to be fitted. This includes navigation systems, control and monitoring and specialist items required to do the specific functions that the ship is designed to do. There is a whole team of people who look in detail at how the ship comes together to ensure it happens in the most efficient sequence and that the optimal centre of gravity is maintained.
All the way through a ship build the naval architect is keeping a bird’s eye view on the overall plan and is calculating the centre of gravity to make sure everything that is installed throughout the fitting out and specialist equipment stages will result in maintaining overall balance of the ship.
Are you stepping back every now and then and keeping a birds eye view on your overall plan? Do you need help when you are adding your own specialist equipment (cars, home, holidays) to ensure that you are doing it in a balanced way?
Launching your life
In shipbuilding there is the customer, in life that’s you. You know what you think you want the end product to look like.
In life, though we often don’t have a system that helps us monitor how our decisions to add and remove things will impact our overall life at the time, or our path to our goal.
Before you know it, what you thought was a great idea has resulted in everything else getting out of balance. That sudden change of job means you are away from the family, you have no time for your hobbies and that planned family holiday is being put off again. You might have made a huge impulse buy or used all of your cash on a “sure thing” investment tip that a mate gave you and now you have nothing spare for the new fridge you have to replace all of a sudden.
In shipbuilding, the planner and the naval architect have systems that guide the build so that the customer’s vision is achieved and the ship floats when it is launched. In life that’s what your coach provides to you. The difference being that you are given the framework and the tools to take an active part in balancing your life. The coaching relationship is such that they are a guide and provide the foundation principles for you to make the decisions. You are in control.
Along the way you may need specific expert advice such as taxation, financial or health related advice and the coach can support you in connecting with the right expert. Similarly in shipbuilding, the expert in engine, navigation system or other specialised systems are called in to integrate the system into the build at the appropriate time.
Finally, when the champagne is cracked, the shipwright kicks out the chocks on the slipway and the ship slides into the water everyone has their fingers crossed that it floats!!
What about YOUR LIFE? Are you keeping your fingers crossed or are you building a life that floats?
If you would like to find out more contact me
My passions are nature, people, and building cultures of cooperation, harmony, sharing and reverence for life. I enjoy working with people to help them understand themselves and others so they can reach their full potential in life.