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Traveling Partners

Sailing Crew Hauling on a LIne

Last month we looked at goals and how the value in goals is often derived more from the challenges during the journey to attain them than from the attainment itself. This month we look at another aspect of the journey, which is the traveling partners we choose along the way.

Twice I have sailed boats from Hawaii to California. Once in 1996 and once in 2000. The trips were substantially the same, but also wildly different. Yes, there were differences in the boats, the weather and the challenges along the way; but the biggest difference was who I was with.

On the first trip we had a crew of five and my watch partner was a humorous, fun-loving sailor who usually had his first drink before breakfast. On the second trip there were just two of us on the boat: the owner and me. The owner was a sober, serious sort, but competent, friendly and trustworthy. Both trips were great experiences, and I genuinely liked all of the people involved, but the two passages drove home the importance of making wise and intentional choices about who we travel with through life, whether we’re talking about a spouse, the people on our team, or just the friends with whom we spend time.

We are attracted to people with whom we make a connection or have some chemistry. In college I thought I had a lot in common with a girl if she was cute and liked the Beatles, so we were set to go. Chemistry is good and necessary in relationships because it gets things started, but it isn’t the end of the story.

The next thing we need is compatibility. I define compatibility as wanting to travel the same path, which includes sharing similar values. If you meet someone with whom you have great chemistry and that person’s dream is to be a Christian missionary in remote, developing villages, while your dream is to open a bagel store in the heart of New York City, that might be an incompatibility.

The final thing we need to look for is character. Character is comprised of the choices a person makes on a day-to-day basis. It includes, but is not limited to, integrity, honesty, courage, perseverance, grit, initiative and attitude. Character is often overlooked, or is the last thing to come up, when people choose who they want be with; but it is the most necessary component for a lasting relationship because the trust and commitment that come from good character are what hold relationships together over the long haul.

All three of these components come into play when seeking new members for the SSC team, but the emphasis is more strongly placed on character, with integrity, responsiveness and accountability heading the list of non-negotiables. To put it another way, we are looking for people who can return a phone call (email) and keep an appointment – things that sound so simple, but where people today so often fail.

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