The Triton


Recognizing the mission first step in building successful team


I’ve been on a lot of teams in my life. I started on sport teams at a very young age and that continued through high school. After my first go around of college, I got on work crews, a different type of team, but definitely a team. I then moved to captaining boats and leading different crews. I learned much from those early teams and all the coaches along the way, but perhaps nothing stands out more than the importance of teamwork for a successful group endeavor.
Pretty much all the men shaping my childhood were coaches. Even my own father was a coach, so inside and outside of the home I was around coaches. Some were more effective than others and like teachers of all kinds, you remember the good ones. You remember things they said repeatedly to drive home a point. I remember teamwork really being emphasized. I can still hear “there is no I in team.” It was all about the group effort.
Everyone succeeds if we all work together. No one person was bigger than the team. All these teams were a training ground for developing the ability to work well together with others and this ability will serve anyone well and is imperative in our work lives and our lives in general.
So let’s look at the yacht crew.
As I have lived it and watched it and studied it, one thing is clear; this is a team and the same rules apply as far as teamwork and success. If a crew can keep their eyes on the bigger picture, beyond themselves and their personal egos and drama, you have the makings of a solid team.
If we get in the habit of thinking about what we do and how we can do it better and each team member adopts that thinking, a crew can create an extraordinary experience. A fully functioning cohesive unit is felt by all that are involved and it feels good. It is an unmistakable feeling.
You know when it’s there and when it’s not. It’s also usually pretty clear why it’s not working. It’s usually an individual or individuals not in sync with the program. This brings up another coach quote from childhood; “Let’s go, work with the program boys.”
Work with the program, I heard it over 40 years ago and it’s perfect. There’s not much to add to that. One gets the message pretty clearly there. In other words, get onboard here with what we’re trying to do. Recognize the mission.
That brings us to the communication skills of the leaders of the team. On a yacht, captains and department heads must clearly state what the program’s all about. How things are done and what is not tolerated. If what kind of program being run is clearly spelled out, many issues can be avoided from the start. Also, if someone doesn’t like the program, they can make a decision about their involvement. If it doesn’t work for you, find another program. It is always a detriment to a smooth running team if procedures and expectations are brought up after the fact.
So for a new crew member, if things are not clear, ask for clarity. You can’t work with the program if you’re not sure what the program is. Effective communication is critical for teamwork. Once again, the best coaches, the best captains and leaders know how to communicate. The running of a team doesn’t just happen on its own. A good communicator at the helm really helps to steer things in the right direction.
I want to emphasize that the ability to work with others and achieve as a team, isn’t just for your present situation. This skill will be of value wherever you go. Whatever comes down the line, the experience of working well on a team comes with you and makes future experiences more successful.
Motivational and personal growth author and speaker Brian Tracy puts it like this: “Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.”
Let me close with a quote from a famous football coach, “individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi
Enjoy the Voyage.

Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach. Contact him through at

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