This afternoon had been planned for over a month. Six corporate colleagues, from Toronto, London, and Minneapolis but who all worked for Driasi, were going to come sailing with us. Regardless of past experience, they were going to learn to sail the boat together and learn about their own team in the process.
The day dawned cloudy, with easterly winds. The waves were small, the wind was blustery, and we scanned the weather reports. We didn't have to say aloud that easterly winds can become unmanageable in October. But the rain held off and the wind held steady, and promptly at the appointed time, this team of six who had come to northern MN for a company retreat and groupthink walked briskly down to the dock and shook our hands. Only a few minutes later, in the cockpit, did it come out that hardly anyone had sailed before, they were quite nervous about going out there, and we'd have to take the "sailing" part one step at a time.
Which was only reasonable, Mark assured everyone. It WAS brisk out there, and some safety instructions were first in order. Harnessed and lifejacketed, with a dry run of sail raising under out belts, we headed out. Some stayed in the cockpit and pulled on the jib sheets or took the helm. The others raised the main and then sat out and enjoyed the splash. It was quite warm for October, with water temperatures still in the upper 50s and the air temperature in the 60s. With a double-reefed main and a reefed jib, we rocketed along. Not one of the team faltered or forgot to have fun, despite a little queasiness towards the end. They loved the sailing metaphor and used it frequently.
"Ahhhh....now you want me to steer the boat, eh?"
"I can't pull this unless you give me some slack!"
By the end of the sail the sun was peeking out and even the most nervous of us was smiling. Afterwards we sat around with hot chocolate and ginger cookies and passed a talking piece. Everyone learned something, it seemed, and enjoyed going out on a limb to try something new. Good teamwork involves being vulnerable, feeling personally connected to the values of the company, and sailing through rough times together.
Thanks to Driasi for serving as guinea pigs for our new program--CORPORATE TEAM-BUILDING THROUGH SAIL--I hope we get a chance to offer this in the future.