It would have been pretty tempting to do some complaining aboard the Ruby May, the 39-foot sailboat that my beloved wife Launda Wheatley and I called home for two months. The Atlantic crossing brought our crew of four individuals wind, sunburn, rain and a fire onboard (!), to name just a few challenges.

When dire circumstances arise, you have a choice. You can either sit and complain about the wind, waves, current or whatever. Or you can just pay attention to what’s happening in the moment and adjust accordingly.

As we at Humanergy often advise, examine every problematic situation with a review of the facts.

  1. What can we Control?
  2. What can we Influence?
  3. What can we Mitigate?
  4. What must we Accept?

We call this CIMA. Let’s use the example of the onboard fire which happened in the middle of the night on the Ruby May as it sailed the Atlantic Ocean.

  1. What can we Control? Wake others, work to put out the fire, don’t panic, and be clear about what you are doing and where others can help
  2. What can we Influence? Be rational and don’t place blame, which encourages others to do the same; stay calm and remain forward focused
  3. What can we Mitigate? Training before setting off covered boat fire and emergency actions, including location and use of fire extinguishers for quick and efficient response
  4. What must we Accept? Fire detoured and delayed journey somewhat and cost a bit of time and money

Thankfully, the crew acted quickly and disaster was averted. Whenever an issue is resolved, it’s important to ask, “Given what we faced, did we do well?” Too often we fall into frustration-driven bemoaning, like “WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?!” or “WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!” Instead, do a calm, analytical review of what happened, what went well and what must change.

The end result of the fire and other challenges to the crew of the Ruby May? Increased trust in each other’s capabilities and a keen appreciation for nerves of steel and fire extinguishers. Make your next challenging situation one that ends with growth.


Tell us about when you adjusted to unanticipated challenges. Comment below or message us!

Photo by David Wheatley.