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Sailing Successfully Through Life

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When I was going through college a mentor asked me what I thought was needed most to bring success to an organization. I explained that I thought it was having the right skills and improving on your strengths. He shared what was needed was one thing, leadership. He taught me to begin establishing a personal library on the subject and to study those who have demonstrated strong leadership skills. You can find countless books on the subject at Cleveland's Library.

In his book, Plotting the Course, author Rick Arneson shares his perspective on success and leadership with the eye of a seasoned sailor. His book is an excellent resource on understanding self-management and teamwork, in business and in life. His biggest forte are the powerful anecdotes he shares.

For instance, Theodore’s wife and mother died on the same night. This excruciating experience helped shape the man he would become as he went into solitude for many months to heal and recover. The scars he bore from this tragedy gave him a strength and a resolve that would carry him into the presidency.

From Wayne Gretzky we learn the lesson of anticipation, being able to recognize patterns that others may not see so we are not caught off guard but instead are prepared for what life throws our way.

Then there is one of my favorite stories I have written about before, the turn-around of Apple when Steve Jobs was brought back into the company. His creativity and innovation and ability to see things as they could be turned Apple in ten years from a $5 billion dollar company into a $170 billion dollar company. What did Jobs do? He turned boring computers into colorful, hip and fun additions to the home and office. He created computers that were red, green, blue and yellow and the world ate it up. He charted the course where none had seen the potential.

Whether it is quoting Woody Allen (“Eighty percent of success is showing up”) or Henry Ford (“A handful of men have become very rich by paying attention to details that most others ignored”) or Plato (“The beginning is the most important part of the work”), Arneson’s work is rich with real life quotes and examples that help drive home his strategies for reaching your goals, both personally and career wise.

As the title suggests, his passion for the ocean lends itself to countless examples from the sport of sailing as well. Leadership books can be dry, this one though is filled with motivation and vision, and Arneson is a worthy guide on the path to becoming a better leader and a better person.

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