Hope is Not a Strategy

By Dave Abrams, Publisher

You all have probably heard that classic interview question, “If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?” I’d like to modify that slightly to “If you were a ship, what kind of ship would you be?” According to my wife, I’m a supertanker. And no, it’s not because I’ve packed on a few extra pounds this year. It’s because nothing seems to push me off course. A supertanker is an incredible machine – super calm on top, doesn’t put out a big wake, but the energy to keep it going is incredible. It takes a pretty big sea to get a super tanker rocking around. A big ship like that doesn’t change course easily, and once it is moving in a certain direction, it takes a lot to stop it. Yep, that’s me. OK, so what’s the point?

There are a lot of issues I guess we are supposed to worry about these days. Election results, COVID 19, the economy, climate change, regional conflicts, polar ice caps melting, etc etc. Seems like a never ending string of bad news. (Of course, good news doesn’t sell newspapers!) However, none of that stuff really occupies much of my time. Why you ask? Am I some sort of insensitive, apathetic fool? I don’t think so. I just choose to focus on the things I can control, and not worry about the things I can’t. It’s pretty much that simple. Yes, I am going to do my part to be a good citizen. I vote and I reach out to my elected officials to voice my opinion. But I am not going to let the negative things around me dominate the little amount of extra brain time I have left at the end of every day.

On the flip side of that coin, hope is a great thing. I love sunsets – my daily reminder that tomorrow is another day, and I get a “do over” on all the things I failed to accomplish today. That hope of tomorrow keeps me going. But one of my maxims in life is “Hope is not a strategy.” I can’t simply hope that COVID goes away next year, or that somehow Congress figures out how to actually work together. I can only plan for what I know and can control and try to mitigate the risks that I can’t control. It’s true in business and it’s true in life. November kicks off my annual ritual of budgeting and planning for next year. Many of you are probably doing the same thing. The crystal ball is especially cloudy this time around, so my decisions are based on the data I have available, mixed in with a little bit of “gut feel” and a touch of both hope and skepticism. Shake well and see what comes out! The point is, we can’t wait for things to improve around us, we have to take action to deal with the present and plan for the future based on what we know and believe right now.

I do see a lot of things to be hopeful for. I’ve talked before about my faith in human ingenuity to deal with whatever problems we encounter. I think most people are good people, and at the end of the day I think people agree on more things about life than they disagree on. The media folks certainly don’t portray that message, but it’s certainly true in my own experiences in talking with folks from all walks of life in the maritime world. So I believe we’re going to be OK. For now, my orders are “steady as she goes, and keep your eyes on the horizon.”

Be safe out there.

You can reach Dave Abrams at dave@maritimepublishing.com