Zig-Zag to Success

Once, while heading to lunch with a Wharton classmate who was a sailing expert, I asked her, ‘If a boat needs to sail DIRECTLY against the wind, how would it do that?’

She explained the trick: You can’t sail directly against the wind. But you can sail up to 45 degrees to the left or right of the wind. And then by zig-zagging, effectively, you CAN sail directly against the wind’s direction.

I think this is also a great metaphor for how to take on seemingly insurmountable life challenges. Maybe we can’t face them head-on. But can we move forward ‘45 degrees to the left or right?’

For example, if you want to achieve financial independence but can’t see a way out, can you start learning a skill that may fetch a better-paying job a few years later?

For sure — this will take time, but which big problem can be solved instantly?

Take your time, keep zig-zagging, but keep moving forward. That is the only way to do the seemingly impossible.

– Rajan


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