If the wind will not serve, take to the oars. – Latin Proverb
What does that mean?
This quote is another really simple way of reminding us that it is wise to have a PlanB ready, just in case the first idea doesn’t work out. Back in Roman times (and well before), most ships carried both sails and oars.
Rowing was, and still is, backbreaking labor. You didn’t want to do it unless you had to. Sails were preferred, but sometimes the wind was lacking, either in force or in direction. To get where you were going, it was important to be able to have that backup plan.
While I was unable to find a definitive source, this quote is attributed both to Walt Whitman and as an ancient Latin Proverb. But no matter where it came from, it is an important fact of life to remember the winds won’t always be favorable. What will you do when that happens?
Why is having a backup plan (or two) important?
How often do things work out on the very first try? Perhaps if it’s something you’ve done before it might. But when you try new things, how often do they go right the first time? They generally don’t go so well for me, at least not at first.
Whether you call it ‘PlanB’ (or C or D or…) or just a backup or contingency plan, this is what you turn to when your first attempt doesn’t work out. Like a dying wind, the first plan (sail) needs to be scrapped. On to PlanB, the oars. If you didn’t have an alternative, you’d be in real trouble, wouldn’t you?
That is why having a backup plan is important. While you won’t always know in advance how the first plan will fail, you can make alternative plans which rely on other methods. If you have more than one alternative, you can use a quick analysis of what failed to help select your next plan.
Where can I apply this in my life?
I would use it anyplace I thought the wind might fail me. By that, I mean that it isn’t always our fault that things don’t go well. Have you ever done something before, but this time, it didn’t work? Somehow, the situation has changed. That’s when you pull out PlanB, right?
This quote is all about not giving up, but trying a different way when the initial method stops working. This can be extended to trying a third thing when the second stops working. It is an infinite progression, which only ends when you stop trying.
To me, that’s the biggest point of all this. It is to not stop trying. To keep trying different things, to adjust, to adapt, to continue moving forward, that is the point. Whether by leaps and bounds, or by inches, to live is to continue to make progress.
Sometimes, we come to the conclusion that what we are attempting is no longer worth the effort involved in making it happen. That is a conscious decision, and hopefully a well thought out one. If you’re quitting out of frustration, I would recommend cooling down, and re-assessing the situation.
Take a moment and consider where in your life your first try (or your second) didn’t get the results you desired, so you quit. Did you quit out of frustration, or did you determine that your goal was beyond your ability to attain? Has anything changed in the intervening time?
What I would like you to consider is what other ways you might be able to attempt to do differently? What have you learned in the mean time? What new skills do you have which might help? What have you learned, or who do you know, and how could that help you formulate a new plan?
Take a moment and consider something you set aside because you were out of ideas, but would still like to accomplish. First consider what you tried. Has anything changed since then? New technology, have you learned of new methods? What can you do to improve on an old plan?
Also take a few moments to consider what new ideas you might have. Are there new techniques or methods? Have you made a friend who has some expertise which might be of some help? What other things have you thought of which you might want to try? There are so many possibilities, aren’t there?
What will you do about your past projects and ideas? But more importantly, how will you take these new ideas about planning and alternatives and apply them to your life going forward? Will you ever be caught without at least one alternate plan? For the wind will not always blow your way, right?