For a rewarding life continue to teach and learn

Aug 6, 2013 by Rob Gannon

Teaching others what we know, ongoing learning and a thirst for knowledge adds satisfaction, energy and wisdom to our lives. Education and teaching enhance the joy and clarity of the human experience. The best part is, it is available to everyone. And certainly the yachting profession is filled with these opportunities.

Sometimes when we think about teachers, we remember the formal setting, classrooms and school years.

But, as we move along in life, we realize it didn’t stop there. Those years were just the beginning of our education. Teachers show up throughout our lives and it is our job to recognize them when they do.

Sometimes teachers are obvious, but other times they show up in unsuspecting forms. I remind coaching clients that the people we perceive as difficult or challenging can be valuable teachers. Keep your eyes and mind open for these teachers in disguise.

There are times in the yachting industry when you are in perfect teaching situations. This profession offers an almost constant stream of teaching and learning scenarios. Certainly, the new crew, or new to the industry crew, needs some training. If you are the more experienced one, take the opportunity and offer your help with information and share your knowledge.

If you had someone take you under their wing and show you the ropes, you know how good that felt.

Remember, it also feels good to be on the other end of that as the teacher. It follows a natural order of things. Showing, as well as explaining, is a great teaching tool.

When I was in training to be a coach and physical education teacher, I was taught the five steps of teaching a new skill; preparation, explanation, demonstration, observation and supervision. These steps are quite effective, especially when teaching things like sailing.

It is not only the newbie that benefits from teachers. The seasoned captain and crew should also keep themselves open to learning and should seek teachers. You can be very good at what you do, but if the times comes where you think you have it down and know it all, there is danger. We never know it all.

With that being said, here is some advice for the “know-it-alls,” let it go, you don’t have to pretend you know it all. Don’t be afraid to say,”I don’t know.”

Benjamin Franklin said, “the doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of one’s own ignorance.”
In other words, don’t be a know-it-all. If you’re intelligent, it will show. If you’re a master of your craft, it will show. You don’t need to prove it. Your skills have been noticed. The best teachers say; ”good question, I don’t know, I’ll find out and let you know.” It works well for both teacher and students.

Teaching what we know and watching for and seeking teachers are great components to a full life. We also must be open to learning. Most careers have continuing education opportunities. Yachting has abundant opportunities to learn new skills and upgrade credentials. These are the more formal avenues, but remember a great way to learn is simply by talking and listening.

If you speak with people like you, there is something to learn from them and it opens up pathways for knowledge.

Learning opportunities go on daily with all types of folks. I’ve learned from books and writers, philosophers and scholars. But I also love to learn from mechanics, landscapers, plumbers, musicians and artists. A great example of someone who valued lifelong teaching and learning was Abraham Lincoln. He didn’t mince words when he stated, “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”

These teaching and learning opportunities are all around us. To have no interest or to place yourself above others is a disservice to oneself and others. To jump in and swim in the waters of teaching and learning is to feel a lot of what life is about.

No matter if you’re a captain, stew, chef, engineer or mate, as you approach your next learning/teaching moment aboard, consider these words from writer Logan P. Smith, ”it takes a great man (woman) to give sound advice tactfully, but a greater one to accept it graciously.”

Rob Gannon is a 25-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach ( Comments on this column are welcome at