When challenged to reach your goal, how do you choose the best way to get achieve it?  John Ortberg once wrote about a man stranded on an island.  He needed to make it across a large section of the ocean to the mainland that he could see in the distance.  He had three choices of getting there, a raft, a rowboat or a sailboat.  Which should he take?

Many times we are faced with goals we want to achieve.  And when faced with how to achieve them, we often take the least effective manner to get there.  You’re faced with this strategic question.  How will you reach your goal?

The Raft

The raft seems like the easiest path at times.  We hop in the raft and push it in the water.  We can lay back, and let it take us gently over to where we are headed.  Or does it?

A raft may get you to your destination, or it may not.  If you are on a floating trip down a river, a raft makes a perfect vehicle.  It’s light and flexible.  It navigates rocks and can float through shallow sections without dragging the bottom.  And since there is just one direction to go, you can float with relatively little energy.  All you need is a paddle to steer you away from trouble from time-to-time.

But a raft also flows where it wants to go, not where you want it to go.  So if you are going across a section of the ocean, you may make it to your destination.  Or you may not.  Even with paddles, it would be difficult to fight the crashing waves in the ocean.

When looking at your business strategy, is your strategy similar to taking a raft across the ocean?  If so, you should definitely consider changing vessels.

Is your business adrift?

The lesson of the raft to the business owner is that you can’t execute your strategy like floating a raft.  A strategy requires direction.  That’s something a raft doesn’t provide.  It also requires intentionality.  And floating on a drifting raft is anything but intentional.

The Rowboat Option

The second option the castaway considered was the rowboat.  The rowboat was a viable option for our stranded friend.  Unlike the raft, the rowboat would go in the direction you want it to.  And, with steady, consistent rowing, you can definitely reach your donation with a little effort.  Or can you?

A “little effort”, that’s the kicker.  Have you ever tried to row a boat against the flow of water?  Think about the movie “Castaway”, starring Tom Hanks.  Do you remember how much effort it took to get beyond the waves?  It wasn’t easy.

Rowing takes work on a lake where there is little to no flow of water.  In an ocean, it’s terribly difficult to get beyond the wakes near the shore.

So, yes, the rowboat will more likely get you going in the direction you want to go.  But it’s going to take tremendous effort.  And you might even encounter obstacles that are impossible to overcome.

When you look at your business strategy, are you fighting against a current that cannot be overcome?  Is your strategy for execution like paddling a rowboat?  You may be headed in the right direction, but is it taking way too much time?

Is your business strategy going against the flow?

The lesson of the rowboat to the business owner is that you can have a great strategic direction, but your method of getting there is too difficult or will take far too long.  I believe this is very common with many startups and small businesses.  It’s not that you don’t have a great idea.  It’s that you are fighting an upstream battle, and it will be a slugfest every day trying to get where you need to be.

A Sailboat

The third option for our stranded friend is the sailboat.  The sailboat presents a great option, but it has its challenges as well.  First, you have to know how to operate a sailboat.  Which many do not.  Second, it requires other things to work, most notably, wind.

The sailboat has the same advantage as the rowboat, it does have the ability to go in the direction desired.  There is certainly no drifting with a sailboat.  But it also has an advantage over both the rowboat and the raft.  The sailboat, when properly operated, leverages external energy in order to propel itself toward its destination.

Think about that for a moment.  The rowboat will eventually (hopefully) get you to where you want to go.  But it’s going to take a ton of energy exerted by you (and only you).  Additionally, it’s going to take a long time to get there.  The sailboat allows you to harness the energy of others to propel you to where you need to be.

Think about your business strategy.  Building a successful takes time and energy no matter what you do.  But do you want to choose the approach that takes the most energy and the longest time?  No way!

Employ a strategy that uses external energy to help you reach your goal

What does this look like?  It’s going to look different in each industry.  What tools are available that you can leverage to help your business launch go faster and smoother?  What resources (i.e. people, advisors, coaches, accelerators, networks, etc.) are available to help you get where you want to go faster?

There’s a great saying that I often use.  If you want fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.  I believe that building the right strategy and leveraging the right resources will help you go farther and faster.  It’s a matter of choosing the right strategy, the right partners and finding that source of energy that will help you get to where you need to be.

What do you need to reach your goal?

When faced with multiple options, it’s often difficult to figure out the best way to achieve our goal.  The easy (raft) method is often enticing.  After all, who wouldn’t want to reach their goal without exerting any energy?  The rowboat option is often appealing to high achievers, because we KNOW that we can achieve anything we want, as long as we work hard at it.  But the smartest option is often not the most obvious.  We may not know how to operate a sailboat.  We may think it’s too complicated, or we don’t know where to start.  That’s okay.  Remember, going it alone is seldom the best option.

If you need someone to talk to about your strategy, look no further.  I’d love to talk to you about how I help companies build their strategies every day.  My goal is to help you achieve your goals faster and easier than you can do it on your own.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Contact me today at (502)724-0430 or at jjennings@focalpointcoaching.com.