Does your wake drive your boat?

If you live in the North of Scotland, you probably see boats regularly. I travel around every week and so I do more than just watch them. I frequently travel to and from one island or another by boat. Planes are fine but the timings are generally not as convenient, and they waste so much more time.

I find that generally, the downtime on a boat is much less. As I write this I am on a boat. I get on the boat, I find my seat, I get out my laptop and I will be working till we arrive at our destination. If I travel by plane. I have all the hassle and frustration of security, I am sitting and waiting for annoying lengths of time, and the plane itself does not lend itself to working on my laptop. I don’t need internet when I am travelling but I do need a little space.  Don’t get me wrong, planes have their place and I do use them, but on most occasions, I prefer a boat.

Speaking of boats, let me ask you a question. Can the wake drive the boat? It’s an interesting question and one which I have been pondering since I heard a discussion on a broadcast last week. If you stand at the stern of a boat, you can look back and see the wake that a boat has left. What is that? It is the representation of the history of the passage of that boat. It is what is left after the boat has moved on. It clearly is not what drives the boat. That drive comes from the engine or the sails. Yes, I used to sail. It is a record of a past event that fades gradually over time.

You are probably wondering where I am going with this, so let me explain. I have said in the past that Helen and I are frequently like ships in the night as we each travel around during the week which makes weekends quite special. But at the end of the day, we are all like boats. We have what drives us and behind us, we leave a wake. I say that when I am done, I want to leave a wake behind me for my children, grandchildren and so on to look back on with some element of pride and understanding that the same blood flows through their veins. Unfortunately, it seems to have been a bit diluted but that’s for another time.

We all leave a wake behind us. Does that wake drive our boats? Why do we let our history control where we are going. Our history is just that. Our experiences affect who we are today, but it is up to every one of us to decide our future course. But on so many occasions we let our wake determine where we are going. We keep looking back into that history or should I say baggage, that follows us around, to determine where we go next.

Let me ask you another question. If you had no memory of where you came from or who you know and love, where would you choose to live and who would you choose to share your life with. Now, this is an interesting question and far too dangerous to answer here, but it does make you wonder how much your wake is controlling your present decision making.

We all have occasions in our lives where we wonder “what if?” You make a call on the day, and you change the course of your life to a greater or lesser extent. What if I had not left that job. What if I had not met Helen. The list goes on and on. But it is just my wake. It is just a history of all the decisions that I made in my life up to the present. It includes the influences of all my friends and family over the years. But it is not my present. It is history.  My present is that I am with Helen, and we run a business, now with over 40 staff. That is my present and I can only decide what to do today. I cannot go back and adjust my wake. I might regret certain actions or inactions. I might think about the influence of my parents but that is now all gone. I am my own skipper, and my hand is firmly on the controls of my boat.

I frequently come across other people who changed the course of their lives and decided to get involved in business. Take for example Sandy Mackenzie at Goodtread Tyres in Alness. Over 40 years ago he and a small group of friends decided one day to establish that business and now they are the principal independent tyre wholesaler in the North of Scotland supplying garages all over the North including the North and Western Isles, and regularly carrying a stock of over 10,000 tyres for everything from a wheelbarrow to an earth mover, including tyres for all modern cars and many historic ones as well. Not only that but they have their own garage and fitting bays in Alness, have a shop selling spares and accessories as well as wholesaling bottled gas. They have now moved online and also have a fleet of vans that come to you to fit your tyres so you don’t need to go to them.  Many decisions over the years to get to where they are now. 

We have made game changing decisions for ourselves over the years. Helen and I started our own business back in 2001. Opportunities have presented themselves to us over the years and we decided to take advantage of some of them. We have so far assimilated 4 other practices into our own culminating in taking on Cathedral Accountancy in Elgin and their 15 staff just a couple of weeks ago. In addition to these big course changing events, every new member of staff changes the course of our wake to some extent as does every decision we make to embrace new technologies. Our paperless offices are just about to dump their physical telephones in favour of soft phones on our computers. One day we will look back at our wake and I hope that we will be pleased with what we see, but we are not there yet. Next!

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Alan E Long

The Long Partnership

07770 738770



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