Outside my boat

Trying to change or control what we can’t only results in torment.
55 – 135 A.D.

Charlie Jones was an award winning sportscaster. In 1996, he was working for NBC and he had already covered the Olympic Games twice. The 1996 games were held in Atlanta, GA and Charlie was assigned to cover rowing, canoeing and kayaking.

Charlie was disappointed when he was told which sports he would cover. Very few people watch those events — mostly a few ardent fans and the immediate families of the participants. Also, those competitions would take place an hour outside of Atlanta, so he wouldn’t be near the other events.

But Charlie was a professional and knew that he needed to get up to speed on the background stories. So he set out to interview a number of the athletes. He began by asking each competitor a series of questions. What happens if it rains? What do you do if the wind is really strong? What if the current is strong? To his surprise, all the athletes basically gave the same answer to his questions: “That’s outside my boat.”

At first, Charlie was puzzled by their answers. But as he thought about it more, he came to see the wisdom in the common thread. The athletes had no control over the rain, wind or current; those factors were all outside their boat. The only thing they had control over was what was inside their boat. Naturally, the outside circumstances would alter what they did inside their boat. But they knew that the only way to win in such a competitive environment was to focus only on those things they could control.

Then Charlie applied their thinking to his own situation. He wasn’t happy with his assignment, but that was outside his boat. He had no control over the events he was given to cover; he had total control over how he handled it. So instead of wallowing in negativity, he learned to focus only on those things he could control and let go of those things he couldn’t control — the things which were outside his boat.

Charlie Jones went on to write a book about the lessons he learned from covering the 1996 Olympics. The title, aptly, is That’s Outside My Boat.

I hope you can see the value of applying this concept to your life and your business. Focus on those things you can control: the things that are inside your boat. Learn to let go of those things which are outside your boat. Too many people spend too much time complaining or worrying about things which are outside their boat. Doing so only wastes time and energy.

Let “that’s outside my boat” be a mantra for the way you live. Accept those things that are beyond your ability to influence and focus on doing the best you can do with those things under your control. Focus on what’s inside your boat.

If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.
The Dalai Lama
1935 –

Copyright © 2012 John Chancellor


Outside my boat — 2 Comments

  1. Thank you yet again for an excellent and timely lesson. I so agree with the principle here. It has helped me to stop worrying in the past and is something I try to pass onto my delegates.

  2. Rosie,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I believe we all need to be reminded from time to time to let go of those things which are “outside our boats”.