Not Hollywood pirates. Certainly not today’s pirates. No, real pirates, from centuries past. If you haven’t brought a little piracy to your life already, it’s time to think about it. Here are six reasons why:
- The original definition of Pirate (the noun) was a Greek verb, meaning to attempt. Today, it also means to use something without having a claim to it. Sure, some people say that means stealing, but that’s not quite in the spirit of the original definition. A better example would be to use the ideas of others. Sort of like what we do on Facebook when we share a popular post, hoping we get as many likes as the original.
- Pirates were necessarily resourceful and mindful of return on investment. It cost money to leave port. If there wasn’t something to plunder, there was no staying the course hoping the tide would change, if you know what I mean. They’d run out of food and fresh water if they couldn’t change direction. There’s a lot of talk about change management these days, but despite looking at bottom lines, most businesses are reluctant to cut their losses when a risk doesn’t pay off as it should. People, too.
- Since they had to plan around sometimes limited resources, pirates were focused on their goals. Not obsessing-over-the-daily-to-do-list focused! More of a daily-group-meditation-and-planning-session-about-the-upcoming-target kind of focused. It was success or failure, nothing half-assed. Of course, since failure often meant somebody ended up dead, the stakes were a little higher if they failed to achieve their goal. But many of us lack that kind of focus and dedication to our own goals.
- Pirate ships had captains and crews, but they had democratic leadership. And even the leadership deferred to experts. If the ship’s carpenter said they needed wood to repair the ship, they made port and got wood. If the guy with arthritis said a storm was coming, they battened down the hatches. Today, too many leaders hesitate to take the advice of an expert (who may be a consultant, or the person on the frontlines), and yet every week there’s a story about a business crisis that could’ve been avoided.
- Somewhat unexpectedly, pirates were a blend of realist and optimist. Of course life was hard on a pirate ship, and there were insane risks. But some of the alternatives were much worse. All things considered, it wasn’t so bad. They knew they might be hurt when they attacked another ship, but they also took pains to ready their own for battle. They knew what might happen if they were caught, and most had a plan for that as well. In the meantime, they dreamed of what treasures they might next find.
- With the possible exception of Edward Teach (aka, Blackbeard) and John “Calico Jack” Rackham, they were much less concerned with outward appearances and much more concerned with getting the job done. The only active step they took toward establishing any kind of identity for themselves was having a flag. Every ship had a Jolly Roger of sorts. Most were plain black, though a few captains designed their own with more detail. Today, image and impression management are just as important. But without cannons and swords to back us up, it may be even more important to be able to walk the talk.
- Bonus: I told you there were six, but here’s an extra. (Because with pirates, you often get a little more than you bargained for.) Pirates were willing to risk life and limb (literally) for a lifetime of relative freedom and adventure. Granted, the life of a pirate wasn’t guaranteed to be that long, but neither is yours. Or mine. And there were certainly more than a handful of successful pirates who retired early, so choosing to do what they loved as a career paid off. If you could have a lifetime of relative freedom (from bills, from unhappiness, from stress, from troubled relationships, from whatever hangs over you), what would you risk?
There’s more, heaven knows, but we’ll save it for another post. In the meantime, how are you going to add a little bit of piracy to your life? (Or, if you already have, how’s it going?) Feel free to express yourself, mate – that’s what the comment section is for! Oh, and share this post with your friends, so it’s not a shock when you introduce yourself as Captain.