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Photograph of a statue of Poseidon, Neptune

Naming boats

Will your future self still want today's choices?

It’s considered unlucky to re-name a boat. In fact, it’s not just unlucky, it’s apparently an offence. According to sea-faring legend, when a boat is named, its details are added to a ledger maintained by Neptune (or Poseidon), the god of the sea. Changing a boat’s name and having it floating around under its new assumed identity is therefore an act of fraud against the gods, and it appears Neptune is too busy with god duties to update his records.

Whether or not it is the result of offending the gods, any potential for bad luck at sea still sounds pretty bleak, which is why the ritual of naming a boat and the superstition of retaining its name is still so strong. There are sailors who will turn down the chance of owning a boat they love because they can’t stand the name the previous owners gave it, and they refuse to change it.

Imagine if everything we did in life was like naming a boat, with no opportunity to change our minds afterwards. Imagine if you got just one opportunity to choose which subjects to study at school or university, which career to pursue, which sport to play, which person to date, which city and which house to live in, even which utility supplier or mobile phone company to buy from. It’d be pretty awful, right?

Decisions like these all require us to fast forward in time and ask our future selves if the choice we are making is still right for us. The problem is, we humans aren’t very good at looking into the future and knowing what our future selves will want. We can only make hopeful projections based on what our today-selves want and value.

Now, assuming you aren’t in the business of painting names onto boats, let’s also assume your customers will want to change their minds about something at some point. How can you make your service flexible enough to accommodate their changing needs and wants?

Of course, you can catch them out with your non-refundable booking policy and service contract small print, but good luck with keeping them once that has expired. Surely you would prefer a customer-base of people who want to stay with you because they love your products and services, and they were impressed and truly appreciated how much effort you went to to make sure the service they were experiencing was still the best fit for them.

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