Swaying back and forth on Yahtzee in a gentle swell, a bright shaft of sunlight bursts through an open port above my head, illuminating the cabin. It’s a sunny day here in Mexico and I’m smiling as I scroll through similarly sunlit sailing pictures from a recent work trip to the British Virgin Islands.
It has been two months since I was there teaching leadership and sailing and it’s hard to believe how much has changed in this crazy world since then. Actually, it’s hard to believe how much changed in the seven days I spent sailing between those beautiful islands in perfect breezes.
Typically I’d write this post a couple days after returning home to Yahtzee, but when I flew back to Mexico in mid-March the world was changing at what seemed like warp speed and the time never felt right.
Now, motivated by seeing my students finish their MBAs at Emory University virtually this past week, I dove back into the pictures from the event with a huge smile. Wow, it sure was a good time.
As a partner with four friends in a company we call Sailient, we’ve been running some form of our unique leadership training course in the Caribbean for over a decade. It’s hard to believe it has been that long, and to say it’s fun to be apart of it is a gross understatement.
Our basic program with Emory MBA students and other clients is that we teach leadership development while sailing around the islands. The key to our success has been striking the balance between experiential leadership learning and using sailing as a platform to explore techniques and theories. In essence, we’re not a sailing school, we just use sailing as a tool to teach people to become more confident and effective leaders. To be sure, sailing is an incredible platform to accomplish those goals.
While learning to sail, navigate and live on a boat, our teams have daily challenges they need to complete in order to earn points based on their results. This year we had four boats with five or six students, one Sailient coach and one Emory facilitator aboard. A typical day involved some sort of yacht race against each other with other navigational or performance oriented scoring opportunities thrown in as well. In the end, the winning team mostly earns bragging rights, but the most rewarding part is watching all of the students grow as leaders and sailors throughout the week.
Here are some of my favorite images from this year’s event (some of which are courtesy of George Easton).