Have there been moments in your work place or personal life when you thought you were right, and did not see the need to change, only to face a big disaster?
Many of you would have heard of the following classic anecdote which wonderfully illustrates the perils of stubbornness and the need to change. The original of the story is attributed to Frank Koch, a naval officer.
A battleship had been at sea on its routine manoeuvres under heavy weathers for days. The captain, who was worried about the deteriorating weather conditions, stayed on the bridge to keep an eye on all activities.
One night, the lookout on the bridge suddenly shouted, “Captain! A light, bearing on the starboard bow.”
“Is it stationary or moving astern?” the captain asked.
The lookout replied that it was stationary. This meant the battleship was on a dangerous collision course with the other ship. The captain immediately ordered his signalman to signal to the ship: “We are on a collision course. I advise you to change course 20 degrees east.”
Back came a response from the other ship: “You change course 20 degrees west.”
Agitated by the arrogance of the response, the captain asked his signalman to shoot out another message: “I am a captain, you change course 20 degrees east.”
Back came the second response: “I am a second class seaman, you had still better change course 20 degrees west.”
The captain was furious this time! He shouted to the signalman to send back a final message: “I am a battlefield. Change course 20 degrees east right now!:
Back came the flashing response: “I am a lighthouse.”
The captain duly changed course.
Coaching Lesson and Questions
Openness, curiosity and flexibility are vital to prevent a disastrous outcome and manoeuvre your “ship” successfully.
1) What could represent the battleship and lighthouse in your life or workplace?
2) What would happen if nothing is changed/moved?
3) What cannot be changed/moved? What can be changed/moved?
4) Where do you need to be more open to possibilities that are unknown?
5) How can you cultivate more curiosity and flexibility so you can steer skillfully out of danger?