A Smooth Sea Never Made a Skilled Sailor

By Allison Wyatt


Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the saying,  “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

This truth can be both frustrating and uplifting. After all, nobody wants to go through times of turmoil. However, it is crucial to recognize that change – though an uncomfortable process – is crucial to success. 

This adage, attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt, feels especially relevant to me in 2023. We are in a time of economic downturn, with high inflation and rising interest rates causing professionals to predict a mild recession this year, and we, as leaders, are facing unprecedented challenges in the workplace. A record number of people have left their jobs since the pandemic started in 2020, and the education system in particular continues to struggle to hire and retain enough talented teachers to meet the needs of our youth.

Now more than ever, it seems near impossible to find calm seas in the work world. Business leaders must aid their employees as they weather storms through smart and intentional talent management and business strategies. 

Forging Leadership Skills 

Leadership is not an easy task. It requires effective communication, tough but fair decision-making, extraordinary problem-solving, and deep emotional intelligence. These skills are not innate, but they can be developed through practice and experience. Leadership challenges come in many forms. Organizational change, conflicts within the team, and external pressures such as economic or political instability can keep organizational leaders up at night. But, a good leader is someone who can navigate these challenges with ease and grace, while still maintaining the trust and respect of their team.

A leader who has never faced any difficulties or obstacles may lack the resilience, empathy, and adaptability needed to lead in uncertain times. One who has only experienced calm seas could become complacent and may not be prepared to handle the inevitable storms that arise. In addition, leaders who shy away from challenging seas may avoid taking the risks necessary to propel their organization into the future, instead choosing the safer route that provides short-term comfort, perhaps at the expense of long-term resilience and success. Remembering to embrace these challenges as opportunities for growth and development may make the struggle feel a little more worth the headache in the moment.

Weather The Storm and Overcome Leadership Challenges With Edgility

In order to deal with problems such as employee shortages and economic strife, leaders need to focus on what they control and commit to constant adaptability. They also need to surround themselves with the best team possible, and that means that developing and fostering a strong talent strategy grounded in equity should be a priority in your business. 

The simple truth is that talented and capable hires will leave or neglect to join a business that doesn’t align with their values. If your compensation and talent management systems aren’t optimized, you can benefit greatly from consulting with Edgility. By doing so, you will receive tools and training to improve the morale of your existing team and ensure that your business is “walking the walk” of equity instead of just saying what sounds good without action to back it up.

Edgility has helped countless executives align their business practices with their values. If you have promised to make equity a part of your talent strategy, it’s time to get to work, and we’d love to chat. Let us know: What leadership challenges are you facing right now, and how we can help.

Allison Wyatt

Meet the expert:

Allison Wyatt

Co-Founder & Managing Partner
  • Builds Equitable Organizations
  • Talent Management Support
  • Closes Wage Gaps

Put your values to work. Act on equity.

We believe equity isn’t a box to check. It’s a daily action. Someone’s unique identity isn’t something to overcome–when paired with the right opportunity, it becomes one of their greatest professional assets. We exist to empower social impact organizations to recognize and overcome unconscious bias, racism and sexism so they can build a workforce that reflects and strengthens the communities they serve.