Checked for barnacles lately?

Recently I was on board a beautiful new boat with a friend.  While the boat looked absolutely stunning from everything I could see, the owner told me it was time to pull it out of the water and see what unwanted debris was hanging on under the surface.  As any boat enthusiast knows, this is about the time of year when owners pull their boats out of the water and check for those things that are not easily seen from the top.  Over time, various forms of debris accumulate on the hull.  Foreign particles and parasites attach themselves to the hull, hoping for a free ride, but creating increased resistance to the smooth flow of water and slowing down the boat itself.


We all experience this process of build-up, sometimes in ways that are slow and difficult to detect.  Inaccurate beliefs, unhealthy assumptions, lack of faith, succumbing to criticisms and feeling defeated may cause us to slow down and limit our effectiveness.  We may even become numb to our original values, dreams and passions.  A job loss, financial pressure, low self-esteem and feeling stuck can literally feel like barnacles on our hull that drag us down or stop us from moving forward.

“He who cannot endure the bad, will not live to see the good.”  Jewish proverb

Maybe it’s time for you to strip the boat.  Put yourself in dry dock for a day or two and commit to removing all the debris that has accumulated on the hull of your life.  Take a fresh look at where you are and where you are going.  Hopefully you’ll uncover those old childlike dreams once again.  The vulnerability of stripping down to the hull may feel threatening, but it’s not as threatening as continuing to drag along through life with the weight of unfulfilled dreams and the baggage of misdirected activity. 

Business, relationship, financial and health failures often bring us to a point where we feel dead in the water.  And yet it is often in this forced cleansing process that we have the freshest opportunities for new, invigorating growth.  Embrace these times as opportunities for reflection, rest and meditation, confident that on the other side will be renewed strength. 

Is there an opportunity you think you may have missed due to barnacles on your hull?  How could you still capture that opportunity?

9 Responses to “Checked for barnacles lately?”

  1. JD Says:


    Your timing of this article was perfect. God knows what we need when we need it. I have been dealing with the aftermath of a failed relationship. In the process of struggling with my anger, sadness and grief I hid from the world. Now, thru time with God and counseling, I am slowly coming out of this with a fresh perspective, new friends, and getting back in touch with friends I distanced myself from. I am building a home gym to remove the “barnacles” from my health, I am journaling and talking to God everyday and building an incredible testimony. My business is busier next month than in any year prior. I am rediscovering me and although my boat gets knocked around from time to time, I refuse to let this barnacle drag me down again
    Thank you for your insight and sharing it

  2. Gerald Meissner Says:

    Neat little saying, “Checked for Barnacles Lately” or to have us remove the barnacles of life. But how do you do that? My guess is that I have barnacles that I am unaware of. Where do I begin with this and is this just another item for my list of “to do’s” that will just cause me to put off getting the important stuff done. I am just stuck. I have been getting your automated emails for over a year and I haven’t done a thing other than make a list of possible businesses and when I get a vision of doing any of these posssible businesses I feel uninspired. Where do I go from here?



  3. Daphne Says:

    This is such a great metaphor! I’m currently in the process of checking for barnacles and it can be a slow and somewhat painful process. It is definitely worth it though! Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Erika Says:

    I can definitely relate to Jerry’s comments. What is the answer?

  5. Andy Traub Says:

    Dan, my barnacles are without a doubt negative thinking and insufficient planning. These are things that are just so difficult to keep in check. I appreciate the thoughts and I’ll do my best to “clean my boat” this week.

    As for those who want to know what to do next…my simple advice is to stop waiting for the perfect opportunity for you to start a business or make a change in your life and instead just take some action! Dan, as you know, I started my own company this year and it’s been difficult (heck, it’s difficult right now!) but if I would have waited till it was easy or for the situation to be “perfect” then I would have never started.

    The second piece of advice I have is to hire a career coach. While it’s unlikely Dan will be able to coach you personally I am confident that he can point you to someone who will. I worked with one of Dan’s recommended coaches to start my business and leave my old career and THAT was the thing that took me over the edge into self-employment. – Feel free to contact me if you have any questions friends. A fan of Dan Miller is a friend of mine. –

  6. Dan Bartram Says:

    Erika and Jerry – I would recommend going through Dan’s 48 Days To the Work You Love seminar. The process of looking inward to discover who you really are is essential to even knowing what the barnacles would look like for you. If you have a list of businesses, but seem uninspired by them, I would say they are probably not a good fit. Again, knowing how you are wired is key to success in this area. The seminar is a helpful process to really take action.

    I would also recommend getting away from everyone and everything for a couple of days to just think (maybe after you’ve gone through the seminar.) This is analagous to “pulling the boat out of the water”. I’ve done this and the results are amazing.

    You can find where seminars are being conducted on the 48 Days website. If there isn’t one nearby, I would recommend hooking up with a coach who can help you wherever you are.

  7. Have you checked for barbacles lately? « N2ition0709's Blog Says:

    […] […]

  8. Eunice Steinke Says:

    Thank You,MR.Miller,for this article ,it was just what I needed today!
    God Bless you for Your ministry,it has been a Blessing to me many times!

  9. Breadfan Says:


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