Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

In a Sieve They Went to the Sea–Are You Going With Them?

The Jumblies

by Edward Lear

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!

And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And everyone cried, ‘You’ll all be drowned!’
They called aloud, ‘Our Sieve ain’t big,
But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!
In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!’

That is one of the many nonsense poems by Edward Lear (1812-1888). The Jumblies were a strange group–“their heads are green and their hands are blue.” But what made them so strange for this poem was their insistence upon doing something as dangerous as getting in a sieve (a kitchen strainer, pronounced, sive, as in give) and setting sail on a Winter’s morn, on a stormy day.

Countries, governments, businesses, organizations and individuals often end up in precarious situations that, after the fact, seemed inevitably doomed. It is also true that sometimes even the most safe appearing ventures can fail.

  • Have you ever–OK, right now are you doing it?–felt as though you were in a sieve in the sea on a stormy day?
  • Have you wondered how the heck you ended up in such a pickle?
  • Have you thought that if only you could go back in time a bit, you would not get into that sieve in the first place?
  • If there was a group called Sieve Sailors Anonymous, would you join? (Pass me that application, please!)

Avoid Being Like the Jumblies

1. Consider every significant decision as a boat that will take you somewhere. Will this action, this assignment, this relationship, this conversation, take you where you want to go? How you spend your next five minutes can be significant!

2. Be ready to make repairs. There is an old proverb about even the very best sails: “Split happens.” (OK, that isn’t an old proverb, but it could be!) Be ready emotionally, mentally, fincancially and every other way to repair damages and keep moving. That takes planning and requires long-term self-management.

3. Know when it’s time to change your plans. You don’t need to jump ship at the first big wave. But, if you are being swamped, don’t apologize for making a change. You may have to make big changes or only small ones. Whatever you do, be in charge of it as much as you can, rather than delaying until someone else takes over for you. Put your plans in writing and track your progress. Do not slack off even for one hour about something as important as this!

4. If you ever find yourself in a sieve in the sea on a Winter’s morn and a stormy day, act quickly to get to a safe harbor. Most importantly, don’t waste time feeling stupid or guilty for getting out there in the first place. There is no point in wishing things were different. They aren’t. You got in a sieve, and that’s all there is to it. Start bailing and do the best you can, with a smile on your face and a commitment to not get yourself in that situation again. You can do it!


October 1st, 2008 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development | 3 comments