Drowners, Drifters, Surfers and Navigators…

Whether in career or life, when you gather a group of people together they will fall into one of four “life’s places”. Look any office environment, family unit or social group and you’ll find the members of that group will fall into one of four places; Drowners, Drifters, Surfers or Navigators. Try this exercise for yourself. On a piece of paper, write down the names of people (including yourself) who you share a common link with. (ie. your office, family or social group) Then read the following definitions and assign their “life’s place” beside each of the names that resonate best with the descriptor.


  • On the ocean of life drowners are in lost at sea and sinking!
  • They define themselves by their limiting factors.
  • Their speech contains a never ending list of excuses: not enough money, education, geographical barriers or relationship opportunities etc, etc
  • Often sad and mournful, they see themselves as perpetual victims, one of the walking wounded in an army that never heals.
  • They struggle to get ahead and feel they just can’t ever get a break.
  • They’re treading water and it’s only a matter of time before they go under.


  • On the ocean of life drifters define themselves by their circumstances.
  • Their speech contains an endless dialogue blaming external circumstances such as the state of the economy/industry, corporate management issues/ policies, their current relationship etc, etc.
  • They are pushed here and there by the winds and waves of chance.
  • In career, positions come and they go. They may drift into a position and just as a wave of success is about to elevate them to the next level they get sideswiped by life and thrown off course.
  • Drifters are adversely affected by changes in management, organizational structure and economic circumstances.


  • On the ocean of life Surfers define themselves by their activities.
  • Their speech contains is a non stop dialogue about everything they have on the go. They keep busy being busy in work and at home.
  • They may serve on multiple committees, volunteer boards and organizations.
  • They are a networkers and professional visitors.
  • Riding the swells this way and that, they dream of the perfect wave.
  • Unfortunately all they ever do is dream. They are too busy to take action.
  • They may often relationship or job hop.
  • They tend to get bored easily thus as they move they maintain a constant lateral course.


  • Navigators sail happily on the ocean of life and define themselves by their commitments.
  • When a navigator speaks you get a clear picture of their direction.
  • They know exactly what they’re trying to make happen and they’re willing to pay the price.
  • They are aware of their limiting factors and are zealous about clearing all obstacles that stand in their way especially when it is they.
  • Their ego is in check and they are humble to the idea that improvement starts with them.

Looking at your list of names, zero in on your name.

Yes, being the Navigator of your life should be your goal. Which “place” do you identify with?

I offer this viewpoint because it is important to pause in our busy lives to get perspective of ourselves, our lives and those around us. Whether we are Drowning, Drifting, Surfing or Navigating it is from this perspective that the true reality of our life will emerge. It is from this point that magical things will start to happen as we are able to begin to consciously make choices in our day to day life that will propel us forward.

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