Crew Coach: Attitude, habits key to crew success

Mar 26, 2020 by Rob Gannon

Crew Coach: by Capt. Rob Gannon

Recently I ran into a former coaching client of mine. She originally contacted me after breaking into the yachting industry a couple of years ago. We had not been in touch for quite a while, so we had some catching up to do. Turns out she is out of the industry now, but she doesn’t regret diving in and, overall,  really enjoyed the experience. As we reflected back on our time together in the coaching process, I asked her if there was anything in particular she remembers or took away from those sessions. Without much hesitation, she said: attitude and habits.

She then reminded me about our prior conversation. She had been interested in knowing what it took to be successful in the yachting world. What two traits or attributes should she work on and stay on top of? She said she never forgot my answer (which I was flattered to hear) – that if you want to pick just two, start with attitude and habits. 

I remember stating at the time that it really didn’t matter what field one is going into, or is already in, but as crew in yachting, where you may be living and working together, things can get magnified. Keeping on top of the attitude and the habits can be a savior.

Let’s just look at attitude for a moment. I know, we’ve all heard the expression “attitude is everything,” and although I don’t know if anything is everything, a healthy attitude is pretty up there in importance. We have all seen it around us on board, and probably have had to check in with our own. Attitude – both good and bad – is a force. It’s an energy that is felt, and it has an effect on oneself and on others. 

We have all been around a “Negative Niles” or “Debbie Downer” – or even a “Let’s Talk Behind Everyone’s Back Brad.” It’s not fun, not cool, and it becomes a drag and a negative force that’s got to be stopped. It can actually go as far as costing you your job. I know – I’ve seen it happen. Someone has to be let go because it “just isn’t working out.” 

Poor attitude can lead to poor job performance, which can lead to being shown the door. All avoidable if the attitude was just checked and adjusted. Now, with that being said, sometimes a position or a situation is truly not right for someone. Being a newer part of a team, there probably isn’t much say in how things are being done. It might be time for a decision about whether this can work for us. It might be time to look for other opportunities and leave on our own terms rather than let the attitude go down, sour this experience and possibly damage our reputation. 

It’s also wise when working with someone with clearly a healthier attitude than our own to see if we can raise our own, maybe even model ourselves after their positive influence. That approach will always serve us better than being annoyed by them or mocking them to others.

Good, healthy habits can also aid us in staying on track and moving forward. This can include a whole lot of areas,  and can kick in as soon as we wake up to start the day. Are there good habits in place to get things rolling? I have worked for a few wealthy, successful yacht owners, and one thing I noticed about them is that they are always ready to start the new day. They weren’t dragging along in some morning fog. They would be showered and dressed well, and after a good breakfast, ready to get on with the day. This readiness and presenting ourselves well is a good habit. How do we look? Is the uniform clean? Are we rested? OK, let’s go, let’s do it. 

Try to carry the good habits through the day and right up to preparing for sleep. We don’t have to get obsessive or nuts about it, but a little self-discipline and finding a routine to perform well in a demanding position is not a bad idea. Now there are also the thought and reaction habits, but that is a whole column in itself, so I’ll save that for another time. 

When we take a look at it, I think you might see how attitude and habits are not really separate entities. There is a connection there; the one will either help out or hinder the other. It’s our call, it’s our choice. Choose wisely, my friends.

Enjoy the voyage.

Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach ( Comments are welcome below.