When I was still in high school I had the opportunity to join my brother, a Master Chief in the U.S. Navy on what they called a “Tiger Cruise.” It’s an opportunity for family members of Sailors to go out for a few days on the boat to see what Navy life is like. At the time, my brother was C.O.B. (Chief of the Boat) on the USS Alaska (SSBN-732), a trident submarine. That made it especially interesting. We went out of Seattle, WA, spent a few days out in the sea, and actually did what they call “Angles and Dangles” (moving rapidly from one depth to another). It was quite a ride.
It was on that tiger cruise that I learned a very important lesson:
Small adjustments matter
What taught me this lesson was that my brother’s job, at some points, was to receive the commands from the C.O. (commanding officer) and pass them on to the guy driving the boat (whatever he’s called). The command consisted of a series of instructions that they understood and I didn’t. During that exercise my brother leaned back to me and said, “If we are off by even a few degrees, over the course of time we’d wind up hundreds of miles from where we want to be.” The picture to the right makes it a bit more clear.
That got me thinking… and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
When we start out on something, especially something we’ve never done before (a business, for example) we are prone to make mistakes at the outset. And they’re not typically only mistakes of “a couple of degrees off,” they can be huge mistakes. If we leave those missteps in place, we will wind up WAY off course from where we want to be.
That’s why we have to learn how to make small adjustments
Here’s how it looks…
- Get your bearings (on the sub they did this very often, since they have no windows they can look out of).
- Set out.
- Get your bearings again (periodic assessments are good).
- Adjust your course.
- Set out again.
- Get your bearings again (get used to it).
- Adjust your course.
- Set out again.
- etc., etc.
If you don’t assess as you go along and make small adjustments, you WILL wind up far from where you want to be. Guaranteed, because none of us has a foolproof plan.
Adjustments are needed in everyday life
My wife and I have a good marriage. We are in love with each other still (after 24 years and 5 kids), love being together, and are each other’s greatest fans. I couldn’t do half of what I do (OK, not even a fourth) without her insight and support.
But lately, things haven’t been operating as smoothly as we are used to.
- Communication has been hard (very unusual).
- Emotions have been high.
- Misunderstanding has been frequent.
- Insensitivity (on my part) has been too common.
What we’ve been experiencing, is the need for small adjustments in our marriage. Like everyone, our lives have not gone on as they always have. Things are constantly in motion, people grow, circumstances change, unforeseen obstacles arise out of thin air. We can’t deal with things the way we always have because things are not the same as they always have been.
We have to make little adjustments here and there… and with God’s help, we are dealing with the changes in our marriage, one little adjustment at a time.
Small adjustments may help you avoid drastic steps
Too many of us don’t know how to make small adjustments in our lives, and as a result we wind up waiting until it seems like it’s too late.
Then, with our backs to the wall, we do some pretty rash and (in my opinion) stupid things.
- We push people out of our lives.
- We quit our job or business.
- We give up on dreams the LORD has placed on our hearts.
- We divorce our spouse.
I know it sounds simplistic, but I wonder how many of these tragic nobody-wants-to-go-through-that situations could be avoided if we were better at making small adjustments as we go along?
- What if that couple could learn how to communicate better, day by day?
- What if that entrepreneur could learn to mitigate the effect of past mistakes by making course corrections monthly, or weekly?
Do you see what I mean?