Today we were discussing holding firm to our values in life. At one point in the discussion the leader of the discussion drew a picture of a boat and talked about the need for an anchor to hold the boat in place. Some may picture a single anchor dropped in the water, but having been on houseboats each summer for nearly twenty years now, I have a very different picture of what it takes to anchor a boat.
My husband and I have a beautiful houseboat we keep down at Lake Powell. When we go out on trips we drive the houseboat from the marina to our favorite spot on the Lake where we first have to secure our six anchors on the rock cliffs and then we run six anchor line ropes that then hold our houseboat securely against the ledge of the rock cliff.
As I listened to this discussion today I pictured the six anchors for my houseboat as the values we intend to live our lives by – for me that’s things like integrity, kindness and respect for others, hardworking, trustworthy, and so on. Then I pictured each of the six ropes holding the boat to the anchors as the habits we need to have in place to help us hold tight to our values – for me these are things like daily prayer, scripture study, serving others, spending time with family, setting goals, doing things to further develop my talents, etc.
Now at Lake Powell, even after your anchors are set and the rope lines are secured to the anchors day one, conditions are changing daily on the Lake. For example, at times ski boats can come racing by unexpectedly too close to the houseboat and send their huge wakes into the houseboat causing it to slam against the rocks making it necessary to adjust the anchor lines. Another condition that changes often is the big storms that come. When they do it becomes necessary to tighten the anchor lines again. And if it’s a really bad storm it may even cause one or two of the anchors to pull out and when they do you just pray the remaining anchors are strong enough to hold your boat steady while you have to re-set the anchors and secure the lines that pulled.
Perhaps the most subtle change of conditions is the water levels of the Lake are either rising or dropping anywhere from a few inches to a few feet every day. So even if you set the lines tight to start with, each day the boat will have risen or fallen a bit which can go unnoticed if you aren’t being diligent. If you aren’t mindful to make the needed adjustments daily the next thing you know your houseboat has either become completely loose in the water or its gotten totally stuck up on the rocks.
I share this visual because keeping that houseboat steady in place is a great parallel to our lives. Even if we have chosen our values to live by and we have put habits in place to secure ourselves to our anchors, the fact is that there are conditions that will be changing daily. Some of those conditions change suddenly and even unexpectedly, like a storm coming in or a boat racing by, and some conditions change more subtly, like the water level going up or down a few inches a day. But in both cases if we haven’t been diligent about checking the strength of our lines every single day and sometimes even more than once a day, we will find we’ve began floating aimlessly or we’ve gotten totally stuck.
We’ve got to decide what our values are because they are the anchors we set. We’ve got to put habits in place to be our anchor ropes that are going to hold us securely to our values. And then we’ve got to check those anchor lines daily so as conditions are constantly changing about us we are making every needed adjustment to ensure our lines are continuing to hold us securely.
~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the newly released book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )