Hi There, it has been a while since I last posted. It was an exciting end to 2014 and it has been an equally exciting beginning to 2015. The reason it has been some time since I last posted is because I was at sea with limited to no access to the internet and computers. During this month, I trained and participated in my 2nd Sydney to Hobart yacht race and then spent another three weeks between getting the boat fixed so that we could it take it across to Lord Howe Island. In this past month, I had ups and downs and certainly learned quite a bit. The purpose of this blog post is to share some of these learnings from living amongst other in the confined and often hazardous space of a boat and how it can be applied to your life or business.
1) Keep them busy.
There is nothing more annoying than team members, colleagues, crew mates that are keen to help but have nothing to do. They start thinking too much, getting ideas or just simply sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong. The only trick as a leader is to make sure everyone has something to do, even if it is stuff that does’t really need doing. Keep them busy and collaborating and they won’t get in your way.
2) Murphy’s law does exist, so always expected the unexpected.
Yes, Murphy could be sailing with you announced. During our Sydney to Hobart Race, we had some key parts of the boat break at the most inconvenient times. For some of these we had solutions, for others, we didn’t. Alway sail, ride, manage, fly with the mindset that what can go wrong will go wrong . Have a clear plan for dealing with these. As the saying goes, “hope for the best, plan for the worse”.
3) Get rid of the bad apples and bad customers.
One person is all it takes to make a pleasant experience a nightmare. Not all customers are good for business. While we were fixing the boat in Tasmania, we had one chap come down and stay with us and he proved to be a nightmare. He was stubborn, unpleasant, arrogant and had terrible personal hygiene. After an incident, we decided to get rid of him for our own mental and emotional health. The decision paid off. As soon as he left, we started having fun again and the incidents and bad luck stopped. We lost a customer but gained a clientele. I guess same goes for friends, customers and employees.
4) People’s true character shows up in times of difficulty.
When at sea, although we plan to be in fair weather most days, we are bound to run into some rough stuff. In fact, the rough stuff is sometimes welcome as it can help you move faster. During rough weather, life onboard becomes extremely uncomfortable as the boat rocks, gets wet and heels at about 25 degrees. There are no showers and everything is constantly wet, including yourself and your bed. Up on deck, strong winds and high waves can be intimidating and physically challenging. This is when you find who you can count on. We went into the rough stuff, we had two crew members retire into their bunks and only got back once it was fair weather again. Needless to say, given the choice, I won’t sail with them again.
5) Keep calm and carry on.
We finished the Sydney to Hobart under a heroes applause given that we should have retired due to all the breakages we went through. Despite all the tense moments, the crew remained collected and dealt with each crisis in a calm manner under effective leadership. This was crucial to making sure the entire crew felt safe and that the best decision was made. We ultimately decided to carry on, as it was the safest and most sensible decision. In times of crisis, the worse thing that can happen is panicking.
6) True learning and experience come when shit happens.
I definately came out of this one month sailing experience a much better sailor. As annoying as it was to have all these mishaps take place, it definately tested us and taught us some valuable lessons. I would not be as experienced and good as I am today had I not had to deal with these incidents. Calm seas do not good sailors make. Same goes for business and life.
7) Nothings beats reaching a goal or destination.
I don’t often get emotional except when I arrive at a destination after a long challenging sail. That sense of achievement is priceless. Achievement with recognition and camaraderie can be a pretty powerful tool. That is why it is important to have goals and celebrate them. It is like a drug; a good drug.
Keep It Simple