What to Do If You’re as Stuck as the EverGiven in the Suez Canal of Life

Photo by Alwi Alaydrus on Unsplash

There’s always another way

The number of memes produced on the Ever Given is a testament to two indisputable facts — one, we are all rather bored. And two, we relate to this ship that has been stuck with apparently no way out, causing mayhem and halting other constructive ships wanting to go about their work, much more than we’ve ever related to another human being.

So, here is one for all of us who feel too ‘moored’ to certain things, people, and habits, to the point where we’ve blocked other well-meaning folk from walking in and helping us!

Immediate Actions to Achieve Unmooredness

1. Pinpoint the area of maximum damage

The Ever Given got wedged and stuck between both ends of the Suez canal. However, one side (the port side) was much more wedged than the other. There were other issues as well; the ship was loaded with containers which weren’t helping with the wedging, other ships (numbering 350) were waiting for the canal to be cleared, there was crew stuck on board, and the Internet was melting with the memes.

But the only problem that was (as it should have been) prioritized, was getting the port side free. All other issues would get solved automatically (like the crew), would cease to matter (like the containers on board), or could now be solved with much more ease (like the waiting ships).

Action Point: Focus on that one single problem that is the mother of all your problems. Channel all your efforts towards it and forget all other problems. Soon, you will realize that nothing else matters.

2. Ask for help

In the ‘situation’ that Ever Given found itself, there was no way for it to help itself. If it had decided to be a ‘grown-up’ and ‘self-sufficient’, we would likely be looking at the permanent closure of the Suez canal.

Instead, we had excavators trying to dislodge the ship, we had machinery to reduce some of the weight off the stuck ship, and we had tugboats pushing and pulling to straighten it.

Action Point: When one is right in the woods, it is sometimes physically and mentally impossible to make it out on one’s own. Asking for help is the rational way — not only to get out ourselves, but also minimize damage to others. A damaged person damages persons.

3. Strike at the right time

Apart from the world’s most experienced navalists strategizing to get the ship unstuck, one stroke of luck also played its part —high tide. But it was only able to do so because the clever people worked with the opportunity. They were ready with their tugboats, rearing to pull the moment the tide swung.

Action Point: Sometimes, even if you’re doing everything right, you will be unable to get out — because the missing ingredient is something that isn’t in your power. But, rest assured, the tide will turn, and your efforts will bear fruit.

4. Explore other ways

Fortunately, the Ever Given has now floated free.

But for a moment, spare a thought for those ships that were stuck in queue, for no fault of theirs, whiling away precious time.

While some of them decided to wait it out, some others opted to take the longer alternate route via the Cape of Good Hope, that would take them 8.5 extra days but would give them certainty of their timeline in transit.

In the end, the ships that decided to wait had to do so for a week before the canal was open, though it might take a week more for the queue to empty.

Effectively, it seems that those who opted to forge their own way instead of waiting for things to clear, had a better deal, at least in terms of time.

Action Point: Sometimes, no matter how much you want to do things one way, it just makes more sense to do them in another, even if the alternative is non-traditional, scary and not ‘how it is done’.

5. Acknowledge the cause

The cause for the Great Obstruction of 2021 differs, depending on who you ask.

If you ask the ship owners/operators:

  • Sandstorm
  • Winds

Instead, if it’s the canal authorities that you ask:

  • Human and technical errors

Basically, each one’s blaming anyone but themselves, naturally. The losses run into billions of dollars, and no one wants that sort of liability on their head.

But if we are to prevent such disasters in the future — we need to at least acknowledge the possible factors. And work on them.

Action Point: Whenever you are out of a sticky situation, make it a point (yes, an action point!) to figure out those decisions or people who landed you there. And then, figure out a way that they don’t combine into a perfect storm again. Not all factors can be nullified, but the good thing is, it only takes the neutralization of some of them to save you from the next rut.

Sometimes, all you need is the screeching halt of global trade to show you how your problems can be solved, and how the EverGiven is the biggest life lesson ever given!

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