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On most Wednesday nights, I get together with some musicians and play some tunes. It’s real casual and fun. We play music, tells stories, eat some barbecue and drink a little beer. Just some good clean fun to break up the week.
Last week, we added new member and it was interesting. After he pulled a beautiful Martin acoustic guitar out of its case and started picking, it became clear right away that, talent-wise, he was a level above the rest of us.
It also became clear that the rest of us were going to have to raise our game, maybe concentrate a little harder on our playing so he didn’t have to lower his level too much to play along.
This opportunity to raise our game can appear in many areas of life. So how do we react to it? Do we rise? Or do we shrink with some justifying excuses?
Working on a yacht can certainly present some raising-the-game opportunities. One example could be the new person, joining an established crew at a certain level of experience and expertise. Perhaps the crew members already there are operating on a higher level. It could be the work ethic, the attention to detail or just general professionalism that could be at another level.
So we have a choice here about our thoughts, reactions and decisions. Do we rise up, try to raise our skills and get better at what we do? Or do we shrink, get intimidated or even resentful, and literally hold ourselves back?
As with most choices in life, if we are honest with ourselves, we know which way to go. We know what feels right, and what feels right is stepping up, learning and growing.
It’s really good for us to recognize these turning-point moments in our lives, those moments when we are at a crossroad and we can go one way or the other. I always recommend going the way of growth and learning and feeling good deep inside because we really can’t fool ourselves. When we shrink from growth, we can feel it. We usually know we didn’t rise to the occasion and the opportunity, and it doesn’t feel good.
How about if there is just one person on the crew that seems to operate at a higher level? Does the rest of the crew band together to bring this person down by ridiculing his or her efforts? Or is there some recognition that perhaps individually everybody could stand to raise their game some?
It’s also important for leaders to remember that a lot of leading is by example. If they want others on board to follow their lead, they must consistently demonstrate a high operating standard. The smart ones will step up, and it’s these team members we want around; they are future leaders. The ones that shirk responsibility and avoid doing things the right way will usually drift in this industry and eventually fade away.
Here’s another tip for leaders: Don’t immediately point fingers or complain if crew don’t perform. First, show and teach. Constructive criticism can be effective if done with a teaching component. It’s also important for team members to be able to take constructive criticism well and learn something from it. It’s all about growing and learning and getting better, my friends.
So with my new guitar-playing friend, I didn’t shrink and neither did the rest of the guys. I know I played better and was more focused because a more skilled player was there. I also tried to pick up some things, some new licks from watching what he was doing. It’s like way back when I first started sailing. I would always try to go out with someone who knew more than I did and learn from them.
That approach always serves us well. So be a sponge. Absorb and take in all the knowledge and skills you can. It feels good. Enjoy the voyage.
Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (www.yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.