Lessons from my sailing knife

My Wichard sailing knife

Among the Twitter Feeds I follow are some related to Plymouth, ‘Britain’s Ocean City’.  I have family links to the area and it remains a favouritespot.  I even have a ‘country retreat’ which I keep nearby.  Lest you have visions of grandeur floating before your eyes, let me explain: It’s a small sailing catamaran, measuring 7mx3m, and there isn’t quite enough height in the cabin for me to stand upright.

Something I learned years ago was the importance of keeping a sharp knife to hand when sailing. Ropes can get caught and on rare occasions, this can lead to danger unless rapidly cut. Because salt water is very corrosive, a stainless-steel blade is likely to outlast an ordinary steel blade – the downside being that stainless steel loses its edge more quickly.  So I keep a handy knife sharpener on board so that I can maintain the edge for both the emergency and everyday rope-cutting scenarios.

I share something in common with my sailing knife.  I, too, lose my edge.

I share something in common with my sailing knife.  I, too, lose my edge. The skills that I use in my business and professional life are not the same as they were 15 years ago.  Some, no longer relevant, I have allowed to dull.  Others need to be sharp enough to keep up with the training and mentoring needs of the modern workplace.  And starting my own business required me to develop additional expertise.

I endeavour to maintain the edge.

So I endeavour to maintain the edge in a number of ways:

  • Attending training and refresher courses in my roles as both a skills trainer and an Insights Discovery Licenced Practitioner
  • Reading books, blogs and following podcasts (I’d recommend Michael Hyatt’s Lead to Win podcasts, which have loads of practical advice from a successful business leader)
  • Following other trainers and business leaders on LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Networking with other trainers to keep myself aware of changes in the industry
  • Talking to clients (and attending networking events) to ensure that I remain responsive to my customers’ needs
  • Engaging in mentoring for myself and regularly reflecting on my work practices and performance to identify areas for improvement

Keeping Business Skills Honed

What do you and your team do to keep their everyday business, technical and soft (vital) skills sharp? Do you book time out for reflection, encourage participation in workshops, send people away for training? I’m interested to know what you practise.