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Sail Through Life With Confidence

Staff Member
Sail Through Life With Confidence

- August 02, 2005

August in my home state of Michigan is a time when sails of boats are a common sight on the horizon of Lake Michigan. Sailboats are beautiful to view from shore, but the true beauty is being aboard and at the helm.

Sailing for pleasure and competition has been an important part of my life since I was a young man and an activity our family has enjoyed together for many years. Sailing holds many life lessons. If fact, I once gave a speech called "The Four Winds," in which I talked about facing and adjusting to the different types of winds that life blows our way.

My first life lesson from sailing came when I was in my early twenties. My best friend, Jay Van Andel, and I decided to buy a sailboat and sail to South America. We wanted a year of great adventure, and we set out to get it.

We first traveled to the Atlantic coast, where we found an old, wooden schooner named Elizabeth. When we bought the boat, we had never set foot on the deck of a sailboat. I wasn't even qualified to be called a novice. At one point, we got so lost in New Jersey that it took the Coast Guard eight hours to find us.

While sailing into the Bahamas Channel in the middle of the night, in 1,500 feet of water, the boat began to take on water. At 2:30 a.m. an American freighter pulled alongside and rescued us. By dawn, Elizabeth was at the bottom of the sea.

At that point, most people would have given up and gone home, but Jay and I were committed to our dream and were still confident that we could make it work. We weren't afraid of risk or adventure. So, we decided to continue and explored South America.

That trip changed my life. I had learned to take risks and to rise above defeat in order to achieve a goal and realize a dream. Every subsequent venture in my life has benefited from the lessons learned on that trip.

I believe that almost everyone can do whatever they set out to do if they have confidence that they can. And I believe that confidence is both a choice and a gift. If you didn't receive the gift, then you can make the choice. And when you make the choice, you receive the gift.

We choose to be confident. We choose to believe in ourselves and in our goals. Don't let your dreams die from lack of confidence. Don't let others transfer their fears to you. You'll never learn everything you need to know until you start doing. At some point, you have to stop thinking, stop talking, stop weighing the arguments and counting the costs, and simply launch out.

I believe God made us to venture out rather than to stand on shore. He has given each of us the capacity to have confidence. But we have to nurture that confidence by taking action. By acting we learn all that we are capable of doing. People who try are typically surprised by what they can achieve. So, whatever your boat in life, get in and start sailing.

Rich DeVos is the former chairman of Gospel Communications. He is also the author of "Hope From My Heart: Ten Lessons for Life," co-founder of Amway Corp., and owner and chairman of the NBA's Orlando Magic.