Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.

Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction. – Kenichi Ohmae

"But, I thought you had the directions!"

“Which way should I go?” – “What? I thought you had the directions!”

What does that mean?
This is quote is about understanding the nature of the challenge you face. If you don’t understand what you are up against, you can give it all you have, and end up worse off than when you started.

And that is the point of the example given in the quote. If your boat is pointed the wrong way, no amount of rowing (short of circumnavigation) will get you to where you want to go.

And it’s even worse when you misidentify your goal. You’ll row your heart out, only to find that you’re in the wrong place. That’s a great way to destroy your motivation, isn’t it?

The underlying point is to work smarter, not just harder. Yeah, it has become a cliché, but the guy with the sore arms on the wrong island (or at the wrong pier) knows exactly what it means.

Why is knowing where you are headed important?  
Well, it’s only important if you have some place you want to go, I suppose. If you do not, pretty much any place will do. Sadly, I am serious on that point. We’ve probably all been there at some point in our lives, not knowing where we were going, moving forward because that is what was expected.

Where did you go? Where did you end up? Were you satisfied with the return on the effort you put in to the experience? Or was it just frustrating and a waste of time? I know how I classify such exercises in futility. You might use different words, but I believe the frustration will show through.

When you know where you’re going, you tend to get there sooner, and with less effort. You can plan what you are going to do and how you will do it. Everything tends to work just a little better when you have a direction and a destination. And that is the point of today’s quote, in my opinion.

Where can I apply this in my life?
This applies to so many aspects of our lives. From setting goals to projects to relationships, the list is practically endless. Is the project car going to be for drag racing, circuit racing, or street driving? If you don’t know, you’ll almost certainly build the wrong car.

Are you looking for a pleasant evening, or a life-mate? If you don’t know, you’ll probably pick the wrong person for a random reason, right? At least I know I have, back in the day. That’s exactly how I ended up getting into, and out of, my first marriage.

Even something as simple as shopping can fall prey to this quote. You want to make apple pie. Great! You check the recipe and it says you need half a dozen apples. Zoom, off you go to the store for your half dozen apples.

At the store, you realize you didn’t write down which kind of apple, as you stand in front of a selection of a dozen different types, of different colors and flavors. Can you row hard enough to fix this lack of direction?

The list goes on. You get to the jewelry store, but forgot her ring size. You get to the store, but can’t remember their clothing size(s). There is no amount of rowing that will fix the lack of direction. You didn’t know where you were going. You managed to get close, but not close enough.

How often do you do things in the “Ready, Fire, Aim!” order? I bet you can imagine how often you’d hit your mark if you did things in that order. Whether it’s at a shooting range or the free throw line, knowing where you want something to end up is important, right?

Think about the last few times you went and did something before knowing where you were headed, and getting your ‘boat’ pointed in the right direction. How well did that work out for you? Can you make a case for not doing things that way in the future?

Yes, some things are trivial, and can be done in an ad-hoc basis. But most of the big things, the important things, should probably have a little thought put into them first, right?

What can you do to help remember to take a little time and think about it, next time you get started on something? Can you remember some of your more spectacular (or hilarious, or painful, or…) experiences, and use that to help get you focused? To me, this is going to be a conscious competence issue, so you will have to figure out how to remind yourself.

Even if you’re part way across the lake in your boat, you can still pause and assess your heading and double check your destination. If you’re half way to the store, would it be easier to turn around then, or wait until you get all the way there and come back? I know which one I would prefer.

It’s up to you, you’re the one rowing your boat. But also consider the times when you’re the navigator and some one else is stuck at the oars. Do everyone a favor, and take a moment to think it through. First.

From: Twitter, @Palidan
confirmed at :…
Photo by Joe Szilagyi


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in action, effort, goals, knowledge, plan, thinking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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