Mind Your Wake – Lessons from Uncontainable

I’m currently reading Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives. Sure, it’s a long title, but I think it’s understandable, considering how much awesomeness comes out of The Container Store. (Seriously, that store is my happy place. It’s unreal how much joy those organizational opportunities bring to me!) Kip Tindell, Chairman and CEO, shares his philosophies on what’s made The Container Store so successful, as well as stories that make you think you’re reading about someone’s family rather than a large publicly traded company. While a little corny at times, there’s still a lot to be gained in what he has to say. Kip devotes most of the book to the Seven Foundation Principles, but what struck me most was the notion he shared about being mindful of our wake – what we leave behind us as we move forward.

Being mindful of our wake. It’s a powerful visual that reminds us we’re not here alone, and that like a boat, our presence and movements leave a trail behind us, whether we’re around to see it or not. It’s not uncommon to be reminded that our actions affect others, but this comparison to a boat specifically addresses what we leave behind us as we move on, which struck me as a profound reminder we perhaps need a little more often. Even once we’ve moved on – be it geography, career or relationships, or even just in our own thinking – we’ve created waves that still exist. But how big are those waves? When we’re out on the open water, we speed up, leaving great waves behind us, but as we get closer to land, we’re warned to slow down so our wake will not harm others. We don’t always have much control over reactions that happen after we’ve left, but there are certainly things we can do to affect how disruptive our presence is.

Clearly there are times in our lives when it’s acceptable and even fun to create a large wake behind us, while other times we need to move carefully, not damaging what’s around us. And it’s important to know the difference so we can be mindful of our wake. How are you mindful of what you leave behind?

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