Making friends with sailing

September flew by at incredible speed. It began with learning and it ends with learning. I treated myself to a four-day sailing training on the Baltic Sea. What was special about this was that it was a crew of 3 women and one skipper (female as well). At the beginning of the year, I had taken some time to set an intention on what I would like 2021 to be about and what in my life should change. I wrote and drew all that on a sheet of paper. One of the items that appeared prominently on there was a sailing vessel. When I booked this sailing trip earlier in the year, I thought of it as an experiment, a prototyping exercise if you will. The idea was to test if sailing and I could become friends. I had been out in a sailing boat with friends before on the lake of Constance and really liked it, so I wanted to see if I have it in me to take a more active part in navigating. We live so close by the sea that this feels like an excellent weekend activity. At the same time, of course, I was aware that if you pursue to learn how to sail it’s something that takes considerable investment in terms of time, dedication, and not least of all, money.

So, what was the trip like? We had four days of learning and fun – it really was an inspiring mix of people. The weather was dry and sunny but with very little wind and that made the sea a safer “playground” for newbies than it would have been with a strong breeze and choppy waters. Our trip took us from Damp in Germany to the tiny island of Schleimünde, then up to Hørup in Denmark and back via Maasholm to Damp. During that time, I experienced moments of competence, like when I got the hang of how to lead a tacking manoeuvre and found the right timing and I also lived through moments of failure like when I forgot to properly take in the rear line once when we were casting off.

What I enjoy about sailing:

  • The adventure of the journey, the joy of whizzing along powered be the wind, being outside, in touch and in tune with the elements
  • Sleeping at night in a gently rocking boat, safely tucked in like in a cradle
  • Working together: It’s a team activity that requires people to take responsibility, working hand in hand and listening to each other
  • The unpredictability: It teaches you to work with what’s available. You need to plan ahead where you’d like to go to but ultimately the weather decides if and how fast you can get there on the day. So, having a plan B and C is helpful
  • The atmosphere in the harbour: comings and goings, tales of adventure, inspiring encounters
  • Mindful leadership: You need to be always aware about what’s happening around you and act calmly, even under pressure
  • It’s a challenge for the brain: There is a whole new language to learn. Everything on the ship (even every single line) has its own individual name and most of them were unfamiliar to me. Nearly every action you perform has a specific professional name, too so there is a whole new set of verbs to get accustomed to as well. And then the knots, oh my…

Luckily, we had a patient, experienced skipper. She explained things so that we could understand and coached us so we could practice. That way, we gradually became more proficient, confident and forward-looking.

As you can imagine – sailing and me are indeed becoming friends. Just last weekend I was out with friends on a rented vessel. During the winter months I would like to begin studying for the first of the two licenses I need to become a skipper, eventually. But there is no rush and no pressure. I will take my time and get 300-400 hundred sea miles under my belt in my own time. It doesn’t matter so much if I get there in one year or in 3-5 years. I am on my way and that feels awesome. Maybe, we will have our own boat one day. Klaus is keen on exploring this hobby, too.

Another special happening in September was the first in-person workshop post-pandemic. I had the pleasure of working with a group of team leads and two colleagues in southern Germany for two full days. Working in-person has a very different quality of course and it opens new ways to connect, craft and interact. Funnily enough when it comes to facilitation, I am now more experienced in hosting remote gatherings than real ones, so it now feels all the more exciting to dive into all that becomes possible when working together in an in-person setting.

Our hppyppl team day was a highlight, too. We explored the town of Bingen on a scavenger hunt, workshopped and prototyped on the evolution of our business including a lion’s den pitch of our prototypes, we carved out and refined our core values and our “why” for hppyppl and enjoyed a yummy dinner with wine tasting together. I am proud to be part of this endeavour and excited about how it will grow and evolve in the years to come. We have created something special and this seems to resonate with just the type of people we want to work with. The law of attraction is working its magic. 😊 We are getting new clients on board right now, several requests come in each month and the calendars are filling up with workshops, retrospectives, sparring sessions and much more.

I am currently on a bit of a round trip through Germany. September ended with module 4 of my team coach training program in Berlin. The last module was all about emotions and transformation, very intense (see blog post here). And again, this time, our teachers had a lot of practice sessions in store all around the topic of conflicts. We were invited to bring in our own cases which made it more tangible and challenging at the same time.

After that, my journey continued from Berlin to Bingen to see my folks, where I am spending two days and then on to host a two-day team workshop south of Karlsruhe, from there to Marburg to meet with my friends and colleagues from Les Enfants Terribles for the self-organized module 7 of our “endless education program” and from there to a small town near Wuppertal to meet with Deike the skipper and try out a newly developed simulator for port manoeuvres that she has invited me to test.  I will be “on the road” for 13 days in total and will be exposed to different settings, lots of people and stimuli, so I feel it’s important that I also take time to be with myself and ground down in between. I usually do this with my daily yoga practice and meditation and hope to be able to gift myself also with a short walk on most of those days.

Sending you warm regards, wherever this finds you and hope you are keeping safe and warm as the autumn winds are picking up, at least here where I am today 🙂

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