Survival ring

The Lifeboat

Let’s do a little exercise. Get something to take notes on. Here we go…

You’re on the Titanic and it’s going down. There is one Lifeboat that sits six people—you and five others. Of all the people you know, who would you have in your lifeboat and why?

[Cue background Jeopardy music]

Let me help you with your decision. You don’t want…

  • Cool, hip, beautiful girl that’s going to hop on the first boat that comes by and says, “Stay warm y’all, I’ll send the boat back for you later.”
  • Sniveling, whiney girl that’s going to freak out the whole time and utter, “We’re all going to die” every 10 seconds
  • Someone who has absolutely no ideas or opinions
  • Someone who’s going to let everyone else do all the rowing or fishing
  • Someone who’s going to get mushy and tell all of you how much she loves you and how wonderful her life has been, even though it’s coming to an abrupt end
  • A know-it-all

Who you do want is someone who is enthusiastically committed to saving the whole boat. A person who’s going to say, “No one is dying on my watch!”

Now… who made your list and why?

When I have our students read their list of people and provide reasons why they would want the people they selected in their lifeboat, they ALWAYS use words like “courageous,” “strong-willed,” “reliable,” “smart” and “industrious.” A major characteristic that’s invariably mentioned and considered of utmost importance is “positive.”

After they get through reading their lists and are feeling really proud of themselves I ask them (and now I’ll ask you) a follow-up question, “How many of those people would choose you?”

Without fail, there is always a student who shrinks in their chair with the sharp realization that they can’t think of why someone would choose them in this dire of a situation.

We all like to think that we’re “all that.” The truth is we all have traits that are of value to other people’s lives. It’s important to identify what those traits are. Feed, nurture and water them. They may seem small and inconsequential to you, but to someone else they might be just what they need to push through a difficult time and move forward.

Don’t ever underestimate what you can bring to a Lifeboat. And don’t assume it will be available when you need it. You need to identify your inspiring traits and exercise them daily.

Leave a Reply

19 Comments on "The Lifeboat"

Notify of
I’ve thought long and hard about this. What I need is for either 1) the five people who won’t get seasick OR 2) one of those five people to be willing to kill me (or at the very least knock me out) while we’re in that boat until we reach land. However, if we end up on a deserted island, I will be of help. I’m the kind of person who will assess a crummy situation and be like “ok. here’s what we need to do”. I’m good at first aid, can light a fire, have fixed a broken paper… Read more »

People that I would choose for my lifeboat would be those, and I can think of a few, who put their egos aside and know how to work together and support those around them. Inflated egos have no place on my lifeboat. I would also need someone who knows how to make fish taste good because I can’t stomach it to save my life…


So wait, this is like survivor right?
I’m extremely willful, so I doubt I’m going to die(1). For the sake of the experience though, I’d want some experts in sailing and logistics(2), an engineer(1), a chef(1), and a contractor(1)…that’s six…the real test in all this will be getting each member of the group to understand that everyone is essential. No one is a duplicate.


I certainly feel this musing can be connected with your “desert” musing.

Personally, I would strongly consider choosing those particular individuals who I know have genuinely been through “the desert”, as such individuals tend to be resourceful, intellectual, and tenacious people.

Elizabeth Rosendorf
Fun exercise! I chose some of the people I love the most because if I’m going to be stuck in a boat I want to be with fantastic people regardless of any technical ability. I had to add a few extra people but that’s okay-in my imagination I secured two boats and then we hooked them together. Only two of the people I chose have actual survival skills but everyone I picked is so awesome that we would have a great time just hanging out in the boats (aside from the being out in the middle of the ocean problem).… Read more »
The people I want in my boat are the ones that are team players, hard workers and will not give up until all six of us are on dry land! They don’t have to be the strongest or the smartest, they just have to be willing to pull their weight and not give up. In college I coached at a local gymnastics club. My boss also taught a theory & analysis of gymnastics class at the university I went to & I took his class, so that semester we saw each other 3 days a week in the gym &… Read more »
First of all, I’m going to use this as a writing exercise in my class! Thanks for yet another great idea, my wise friend! Second of all, this is not easy to answer! My first thoughts were that I’d want someone older to learn from, someone younger I can teach (and learn from!), and someone who would keep me laughing in a stressful situation. So, let’s see: 1. My pastor–he’s not only wise, but he is selfless, hardworking, and imaginative. He’d do anything to save us, and he’d be able to share his wisdom (Biblical and life) along the way.… Read more »

Go to my Facebook page to see the video I posted a few days ago! It illustrates this point so well!

A Renee

Is this a silly answer? I fear it may be silly and not as completely wrapped in your excellent advice as it should be. I would choose the five people in my life for whom I would do anything to ensure their survival. Those people are the ones (at this point in my life) who would work equally hard to save my life. Today, the list includes people who may or may not be the bravest, most mechanically inclined, or strongest, but they’re people who would refuse to give up.