Crew Coach: by Capt. Rob Gannon
When we embark on a new career path or even just move around a bit within our profession, we can find ourselves falling into the “newbie” category. It can be somewhat challenging and at times overwhelming, depending on the situation we step into. It can require some mental and emotional discipline that maybe we haven’t called on in a while, but we need that discipline, for it will guide us through.
I’m going to break this up into two categories. The first is those new to the industry. We all have to start somewhere, and breaking in isn’t easy. If you get that break, be prepared for a major learning curve; a possible tsunami of information and procedures is most likely on the way. It doesn’t really matter the field. It could be yacht crew, office crew, construction crew – but whatever it may be, a lot is coming, so buckle up.
There may be a period in which self-doubt starts creeping in, and that’s where we have to hold it together and push through. There can be new situations that are not that demanding or complex and everything goes swimmingly. That’s great, and there’s no need to address that here. I’m talking about new situations that really test and push us until we find our groove and our full confidence.
When just breaking in, come in like a sponge – absorb, observe, ask questions and listen. Be a student, an interested and willing student who demonstrates a desire to improve and do well in this chosen field. Mistakes will be made; we are humans, not machines. Understand the mistake and make a strong mental note around it to avoid repeating the mistake. It is also helpful to identify who could be a good teacher/trainer among our new coworkers. It may not be the one we start out with.
Now, here is the big thing; If feeling overwhelmed, like you’re not sure you can make it, reach out for support. Call a trusted friend, call a lifeline to help settle things down and reinforce the self-confidence. Laugh, cry if you have to, just don’t freak out in isolation. A mind in overwhelm is a pretty powerful force and can lead us to emotionally driven decisions that may not be in our best interest. Positive self-talk also is good. That’s right, we should talk to ourselves – but only in a positive tone. We can acknowledge our mistakes or what we need to improve upon, and then get on with it.
One last thing: Don’t quit too soon. If we can feel things starting to get easier, starting to come together, then we are on our way and through the toughest part. Hang in there.
Many of the areas I just touched on for the true newbie also come into play for the second category I’m going to address: the person who has experience in a field but is starting new with a different organization. Jumping on to a new yacht job, for instance, certainly presents an adjustment period. Things may be done in kind of the same manner or completely different. There are new personalities to get to know and work with. A seemingly small detail may be handled differently and be deemed quite important.
It may not always be smooth sailing, but once again, give it time. The advantage the experienced “newbie” has is the ability to fall back on proven skills, as well as the understanding that if any doubts are creeping in, the skills are there and it is probably just the new situation and routines that we need to adjust to.
One has got to be able to adjust. Although we may be coming in with skills and experience, this is a new program and we must adjust to it. The program does not adjust to us. This can be hard, but just as with the “true” newbie, keep the positive self-talk going and reach out for support if needed. Feel the adjustment and the learning curve settling in, and ride the wave.
It has been my experience, as someone who has held many captain and non-captain positions over my working life, that it gets easier. That initial learning curve, info absorption and adjustment period starts to settle down. We start to get into the flow. We may have had doubts starting out, but we hung in there, got support if we needed it and pushed ourselves along. It feels good to come out the other side. We did it.
Enjoy the voyage.
Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments are welcome below.