It's Experience That Makes The Difference.

nautical map.jpg

Albert Einstein once quipped that an education is what remains after you forget everything you learned in the classroom. At QBE (Qualified By Experience), we try to keep sailing instruction to a minimum and let crew members learn the ropes by themselves. That includes navigation. We teach participants how to do it, but then it’s up to them to chart their courses. Given a number of choices based on tides, wind, and weather, crew members decide where they want to go and how to get there. Sometimes, things go pear-shaped. For example, once in the Mediterranean, a crew set out for St.-Tropez, in France, and wound up instead in Sanremo, in Italy. Mistakes happen. But everybody learned something about nautical navigation that day.

We use the boats we use because they are small enough for neophytes to sail without a lot of hands-on supervision. Of course, an instructor/skipper is always on hand to make sure the boat and crew are never in danger—and to answer questions—but our crew members are largely on their own after a few days of orientation. In fact, one of the biggest challenges we face is getting our skippers to shut up, stand back, and avoid the temptation to “over-teach.” When people learn by experience, they tend not to forget the lessons they learn.

Living an Interesting Life

The Week recently posted an article by Eric Barker, the well-known blogger ("Barking Up The Wrong Tree").  The title: Seven ways to be the most interesting person in the room. Now, "interesting" need not imply narcissism or snobbery. It simply helps people avoid being a bore, which apart from anything else is an essential ingredient in the stew we call good manners. And, of course, it includes the imperative to be interested in others, as well. Eric concludes his piece:

And most importantly: Live an interesting life.
Remember the theme of Don Quixote: If you want to be a knight, act like a knight. If you don't read, watch, and think about generic things, generic things are less likely to come out of your mouth. This doesn't need to be expensive or difficult. Hang out more often with the most interesting people you know. The friends you spend time with dramatically affect your behavior — whether you like it or not. The Longevity Project, which studied over 1000 people from youth to death had this to say: The groups you associate with often determine the type of person you become. In The Start-up of You, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha talk about how the best way to improve particular qualities in yourself is to spend time with people who are already like that. The best and most reliable way to appear interesting is to live an interesting life. [Emphasis ours] And to pursue that ends up being far more rewarding than merely making a good impression on others. [Though being somewhat impressive can give a major boost to your self-image and confidence.]

Hmmm. Sometime in your late teens sounds like a good time to start embarking on great adventures in interesting places with interesting people—adventures that will shape your character for the rest of your life.