Saturday, April 14, 2012


By Julie Rahm

This week, I watched a big sailboat leave our creek. Most boats have their home port on their stern. I think this boat was from Connecticut. My husband, John, said the captain of this sailboat did not know what he was doing. You see, this boat was flying the American flag from the right side of the mast. John is a stickler for flag etiquette. He contends a knowledgeable sailor does not screw-up the flag etiquette. So, when this Connecticut boat passed by, John had some disparaging remarks about the proficiency of the captain. Then, as if it were choreographed, the captain drove the boat out of the channel and hard aground into shallows. John was not surprised to see this big sailboat stuck in the mud. John says, “Captain’s must mind their helms.”

A helm is the steering mechanism on a boat. Most helms are a big wheel with mechanical linkage connected to the rudder. One can be at “at the helm” or can even “take the helm”. Fast racing sailboats have good “helmsmen” who steer their boats to victory.

Even more important than minding the helm of a boat, is minding the helm of your personal life. Just as boats are steered from the helm, you are responsible for minding your helm and steering a proper course through your life.

The very first step in personal helmsmanship is setting a course. What do you like to do? What do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to be five, ten or twenty years from now? Once you have decided on a destination, the course will become apparent and you’ll be able to decide on a direction. “Minding your helm” is simply the decisions you will make as you execute your plan. A large part of my coaching business is helping clients mitigate their poor decisions. Good helmsmen make good decisions. Likewise, successful individuals “mind their helms” and make good decisions.

For example, success in school (any school) is a good decision. Being lawful is another good decision. In contrast, drug or alcohol abuse is not a good decision. Financial dilemmas are often the result of irresponsible financial decisions. Willful violations of laws are also not good decisions. Make bad decisions and your ship may leave the channel and get stuck in the mud. Other examples, both good and bad, abound. Most important is the realization that you are the helmsman of your life. And, you must be present at the helm to make the decisions that keep you on the course to achieve the life you want and deserve. Whether your goals are small or big, your personal boat must still be steered. Very few of us drift into our destinations and achieve our desires.

The sailboat from Connecticut was lucky to pulled from the mud by a towboat. In contrast, those who fail to “mind their helms” in life may not be so fortunate. If you need assistance steering your personal boat, you can learn more at my website

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