Are you driftwood or rudder material?

Do you do your best to influence the course of your existence, or do you let life decide for you? Are you rudder or driftwood material?


Let’s examine the approach of two very different individuals, whom we will name ‘Gamma’ and ‘Kappa’. 

Common starting point


Gamma and Kappa started life with very similar circumstances and chances: same town, same neighbourhood, same social background, same kind of upbringing, same quality of primary and secondary school education, same access to rights and opportunities.


However, fast forward fifteen years, and their lives have taken very different paths.


Gamma's current life


Gamma is unhappy in their life. They do not feel fulfilled, their job causes them a lot of distress and they are lost as to what the future holds for them. 


Gamma wound up in these circumstances due to lack of other options. 


Gamma strongly wishes for a change of life, but they do nothing about it, because doing something would mean having to make decisions and leaping into the unknown. So, Gamma just waits, and waits and waits…


Kappa's current life


Kappa, on the other hand, is happy. Kappa has an interesting life, full of activities, hobbies and interests, they truly love their work and they enjoy a well-managed career.


Kappa is always creating and planning personal and professional projects and they are never short of options in life.


Kappa has lots of plans for their future, and they actively plan and progress accordingly.


What is different between Gamma and Kappa


Gamma and Kappa are in opposite personal fulfilment circumstances. 


But, why? What is the core difference between Gamma and Kappa?


To speak in a wood-related metaphor, Gamma is driftwood material, whereas Kappa is rudder material.


By definition, driftwood is passive. It goes where the current takes it, it is at the receiving end of acting forces, it has little - if not no - influence over its own circumstances, it drifts with no purpose, it lands where chance shoves it.


A rudder is fundamentally different. It exists for and with a purpose. It is well attached to the vessel of its existence, it steers around obstacles, difficulties and reefs, and most importantly, it decides on the direction to take.


For two pieces of wood, there could not be more difference than between driftwood and a rudder.


Gamma's approach to life


How has Gamma wound up as driftwood material?


Gamma has always pushed away responsibility: responsibility for others, but mostly responsibility for themselves. They have always relied on other people to plan for them, to decide for them, to rescue them when they are in trouble, which happens frequently. Gamma goes to great lengths to avoid making important decisions.


Gamma excels in procrastination: always leaving obligations to the last minute, always avoiding tasks that await, always postponing actions, always delaying objectives and dreams to a later time. Gamma dislikes planning and loathes talking about or even thinking about difficult subjects. 


Gamma sustains a pattern of instant gratification, of priority to present-time fun and they have never worked hard in their life of their own initiative.


They live in a constant state of unjustified, actionless and hollow hope: hope that things will get better, hope that a miracle will take care of their problems, hope that life will throw a solution at them. But Gamma does nothing to ‘help’ hope – for them, hope in itself suffices as a solid, failproof and unshakeable plan indeed.


And when things go wrong for Gamma, there is always someone else to blame.


Kappa's approach to life


What about Kappa? How have they blossomed into a rudder?


Kappa is a person of action and purpose. Kappa has been purposely and skilfully steering their existence for years. They have always known what they want, they have always been decisive and they have always worked hard to meet their objectives and to make their dreams come true. Kappa often ventures outside of their comfort zone to seek better opportunities.


Kappa is not afraid of responsibility and, in fact, they would not conceive of any other way than to take their destiny into their own hands. They are self-reliant, self-motivated, self-determined and they count only on themselves to solve their own problems.


Kappa does not let chance decide their fate. They do their best to influence the course of their existence as much as it is humanly possible. When Kappa has something to do, they just do it; when Kappa faces a dilemma, they face reality, however harsh it is, and they swiftly and realistically make a decision that takes into account pros and cons, risks and benefits, constraints and opportunities. Noboby can push and challenge Kappa more than Kappa themselves.


Kappa knows their priorities in life, they know what is important to them, and they live in a balance between enjoying each day as it comes and working hard to prepare for the future.


When Kappa experiences a setback or a failure, they reflect on what went wrong, they try to understand the mistakes that they have made, then they dust themselves off they get back on the course that they have set, stronger with the lessons that they have learnt.


Deciding what you want to be - driftwood or rudder material


The difference between Gamma and Kappa could not be clearer. Their opposite personal fulfilment circumstances could not make more sense.


A rudder steers with purpose, driftwood wanders aimlessly.


So, are you driftwood or rudder material?


Having been driftwood material so far does not constitute a life sentence. Of course, many opportunities have been missed. But it takes a determined step in the right direction to set a more purposeful course and to decide to have more influence on the course of one’s existence.




You can start building ‘rudder’ habits:


• By formulating a vision of what you wish your life to be, and by identifying what you can do to help it; then by actively working towards your objectives.


• By promising yourself never to delay actions and decisions contributing to your vision anymore. Your future vision depends on what you do today.


• By realising that no one wants your vision to come true more than yourself, therefore if you do not do anything about it, who else will?


It is never too late to turn driftwood into a rudder. When there is a will, there is a way.

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