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Tally your totals on entitlement and gratitude

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When the holiday season draws to a close and the festivities are over, many people look forward to a fresh start in the New Year. Some reflect upon the previous year to consider how much personal growth and development they’ve accomplished, and look ahead to plan how far they’ve yet to go.

For us yachties, contemplating the year that has passed can mean taking stock of some pretty fabulous life experiences we’ve had, tallying up some pretty cool stuff we’ve acquired, and then making our next great vacation plans and purchases.

With most of our basic necessities provided for us and plenty of disposable income, we certainly have great opportunities. Sadly, people start to take such a privileged life for granted and tend to let appreciation for all of the perks we get in yachting slip away.

There is a lot of complaining about the sense of entitlement attributed to younger crew these days, but what separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.

Grumbling about the younger generation is nothing new. It seems that each generation thinks that the one after it is spoiled, unappreciative, and without proper values and manners. We may look around us at the younger generation and say, “I was never like that”. But the truth is, you probably were. And maybe you still are.

As hard as it is to believe, sometimes yachties fall out of the habit of being grateful. Veteran crew in particular can become bored with routine. When you’ve been to Monaco dozens of times, you don’t see and enjoy the beauty anymore. Instead, you complain about how expensive the drinks are at Stars ’N’ Bars.

When you’ve been to the Bahamas several seasons in a row, the sense of anticipation is replaced with a sense of irritation; you don’t look forward to being stuck in some isolated spot with nothing to do but snorkel and sunbathe and read.

The real sign that we have grown ungrateful comes when we dread a visit from the owner; I don’t think I need to elaborate here.

As senior crew members and mentors to younger crew it’s important to teach by example. Senior crew have the responsibility to demonstrate thankfulness every day. For some people, it takes a lot of effort to notice the good around them — the colors of the sunset, the skilled people who keep us safe and secure, the fresh food provided and prepared for us daily. They have developed a habit of whining and just prefer to complain. They would rather be right than be happy, it seems.

Gratitude puts things in perspective. When you see the good as well as the bad, it makes it more difficult to complain.

The start of a new year is the perfect excuse to make a change for the better. One way to change the world is to stop taking things for granted and develop habits of gratitude. Grateful people look around and realize how much they have that many people do not. Grateful people notice what others do for them and recognize the effort involved. Grateful people are more polite and pleasant to be around.

Here are nine ways to challenge a sense of entitlement and cultivate gratitude, from Unstuck (www.unstuck.com/gratitude.html)

  1. Notice your day-to-day world from a point of gratitude and be amazed at all that we take for granted every day.
  2. Keep a gratitude journal. Notice one thing every day to be grateful for, and write it down.
  3. If you identify something or someone with a negative trait (maybe the chief stew is micromanaging you again), switch it in your mind into a positive trait (the chief stew has a great eye for detail).
  4. Gratitude requires humility, which the dictionary defines as “modest and respectful”. Explore the many spaces where this fits in your life.
  5. Give at least one compliment a day. It can be to a person, or it can be to ask another person to share your appreciation of something else with you. “I love how beautiful the sunset is today, don’t you?”
  6. When you find yourself in a bad situation, ask what you can learn from it. When you look back on that stressful charter when it’s all over and the emotions are gone, what will you have learned? What will you be grateful for?
  7. Vow not to complain, criticize or gossip for three days. If you slip, rally your willpower and keep going. If you make it, stretch it into four days, a week, or a month. Notice how much time and energy you waste on negative thoughts and actions.
  8. Become involved in a cause that is important to you. Whether you donate time, money or talent, you will gain greater appreciation for the organization and it will value you, too.

The new year is the perfect time to think about things we’d like to do better moving forward. Senior crew are in a position to inspire and influence younger crew every day. Instilling routines of gratitude is a great place to start.

It’s not always easy to help crew reform their habits, but by doing the hard work necessary to help crew transform into mature, positive, self-motivating professionals, we advance the goal of creating a more innovative and dynamic team. The impact this has on younger crew is priceless.

In the words of Oprah Winfrey, cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.

Alene Keenan has been a megayacht stew for more than 20 years. She teaches at MPT in Ft. Lauderdale and offers interior crew training through her company, Yacht Stew Solutions (www.yachtstewsolutions.com). Download her book, The Yacht Service Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht, on her site or amazon.com. Comments on this column are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.

 

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