The big existential question: are you the speedboat or the pooh stick?

Sailing boat in the ocean

The world is full of philosophies, ideologies and guidelines on how to live your life well. Whether it’s religion, philosophy or the latest self-help book, there’s a never-ending chatter of white noise around us at all times, giving us the soundbites, rules and guidelines that (supposedly) will help us get better control over our lives.

Well, I’m not gonna add too much to that background noise. I’m certainly not here to tell you how to live your life, or why you should convert to any particular ideology.

However, in my 45 years of being on this planet, I HAVE noticed that people do fall into certain recognisable ‘personality types’, when it comes to their outlook on their own future destiny. Some take control of their future, and some let the universe happen to them – and there’s no judgement here on which approach is better.

So, which one are you?

The Pooh Stick – Floating in the current?

Fast-moving river

Let’s think of life as a slow-moving river, constantly flowing along from A to B and keeping our existence moving along. If the path of your existence is this river, then the Pooh Stick is the kind of person who drifts along with this current.

For the Pooh Stick, their path, their voyage and their destination at the end of the river are defined by the current of the river. There’s no point fighting against the ebb and flow of the water: better to just go with the flow and let it take you where it wants to.

If you’re a Pooh Stick, you’re probably going to:

  • Like rules, clear guidance and the traditional ways of doing things
  • Get comfort from having a transparent structure to how you live your life.
  • Be wary of rocking the boat and having a negative impact on other people
  • Be easy going, happy to take direction and open to others being the leader.

The Speedboat – Charting your own course?

Speedboat creating waves

On the flipside, there’s the Speedboat. Rather than accepting the flow of the river, the Speedboat personality type goes where they want to, powering against the current to forge their own direction in the world.

With the Speedboat personality, the river is not the master. By applying themselves, picking a destination and setting a course, the Speedboat believes they can fight the waves and go wherever they want to – all they need is the power and resources to do this (in this case, the power of their outboard motor whizzing them against the tide).

If you’re a Speedboat, you’re likely to:

  • Dislike rules and see them as divisive and likely to hold you back
  • Prefer freedom and flexibility in life, rather than a rigid structure and plan
  • Be likely to rock the boat and cause waves (usually meaning the Pooh Sticks get washed away in your wake)
  • Be ambitious, highly driven and to have a preference for being the leader

The Sailing Boat – Fighting to get a balance?

Sailing boat at sunset

Sitting happily between those two extremes lies the Sailing Boat. Those of us with the Sailing Boat mentality don’t want to merely bob along enjoying the scenery, like the Pooh Stick. But we also don’t want to be like the Speedboat, ploughing through the water at high speed and sending a tsunami across the calm river of life.

For the Sailing Boat, there’s a balance to be had. There are times when going with the current is the right thing to do. And there are times when you need to harness the power of nature, get some wind in your sails and push against the prevailing flow.

If you’re the Sailing Boat, you’ll probably:

  • See rules as guidelines that help your journey (but that aren’t written in stone)
  • Enjoy a combination of both structure AND flexibility in your life, with a plan for the future providing the direction, and your own judgement analysing and adapting the course as you sail along the river of your life.
  • Be mindful of the passive issues of being a Pooh Stick, and the egotistical issues of being a Speedboat – and aiming to use the positive elements of both.
  • Be ambitious, but not at the expense of others, and able to work with others to make sure everyone gets to the end of the river safely and happily.

Which one are you?

So, are any of those three types sounding vaguely familiar to you? If you look around you at work, in the pub or at your next family gathering, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll spot a few people who fall neatly into those categories.

They’re stereotypes, of course, and the huge diversity of human life means none of us will fill exactly into these definitions. But there’s a grain of familiarity in these three core personalities for most of us, I’ll bet.

So, for the sake of a bit of fun, leave a comment and let me know which of these aquatic personality types YOU must identify with… for me, I’m probably a Sailing Boat (with a bit of Speedboat thrown in).

Let me know which one you are.

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One thought on “The big existential question: are you the speedboat or the pooh stick?

  1. I think I am a sailing boat! But as you say, none of us will fit exactly into any one of these categories.
    Good blog though.

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