Speaking to a coaching client recently, we started talking about the challenges of working aboard yachts. We ended up pretty much agreeing that the biggest challenge usually is not the physical skills of a certain position, it’s dealing with all the personalities and situations. Not just the personalities of others, but understanding our own selves as well.
Let’s start with understanding others. Although many of us look and dress similarly, there is a wider variety of people in yachting today than ever before. It’s more international, probably more age differences, and different backgrounds working together as well. A couple decades ago it sure seemed like most captains and crew grew up around boats and the water. These days, it seems more folks come in from previous careers or service industries, some with no boating background whatsoever. That’s necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.
With all that comes different views of the world, social customs and habits. It seems like more than ever it would behoove us to try to understand what makes each other tick.
Everybody has a story. Do you know the true story of that person you work with? Not some glossed-over CV story but the real deal, where they’re really coming from? Some may not want to share and you never want to pry, but having some real conversations about each other’s lives can be invaluable for connecting while living and working together.
When we’re part of a team, we want things to flow. We want to get on the same page and work on the common cause. Being able to trust and empathize goes a long way toward that flow.
I have been on a lot of teams in my life, both in sports and working on boats, and I can tell you firsthand there’s nothing like comradery and good chemistry in a team environment. You never forget those people and the way it felt. Not every team will capture it, when it’s just a bunch of individuals doing their individual thing it can fall flat. I also realize that some groups will never really get it together. It can get complicated and downright ugly but it gets simpler when you communicate with caring and respect.
Now, the big piece in understanding others comes from understanding yourself. If you have that strong inner compass, that stable and reliable true self that lives from the inside-out, you have the foundation to build relationships and an overall contented happy life. Others may not act the way you would like or say the things you would want but you can always be OK because on the inside you know you are fine.
You know that all you can control is you and your reactions. Don’t let that inner wise and peaceful place ever be hijacked by another. Don’t give anyone that power with your thoughts because that inner peace and wisdom can never be truly taken. It is ours and we all possess it.
Realize it’s not this owner or this captain or this chief stew that is your problem. It’s your reaction to them. You have control over your reaction, and not over others.
It’s not always easy. It will take some time and practice but if you can raise your awareness in this area, well, it’s just about one of the best things we can do for ourselves.
Another thing I often recommend to clients is if you haven’t educated yourself a bit on human behavior, you may want to give it a go. I don’t like to recommend particular books but there is a treasure trove of wisdom in the psychological, spiritual and scientific fields. There is some outstanding recent information and some wisdom of the ages out there and, interesting enough, they connect in many areas. Check it out; it might just change your life.
This yachting industry can be a grind or it can be grand. You can barely survive or you can thrive. You’re on the right course if you take some time to understand others and yourself.
Give others a break, understand everybody has struggles and a story and that you are developing, growing and becoming. Don’t be afraid to look inside yourself because that’s where the gold is.
Enjoy the voyage.
Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach. Contact him through www.yachtcrewcoach.com.