I am often asked what makes a good crew member. Certainly attributes such as skill, knowledge and aptitude for learning are important, but they are only part of the puzzle. No amount of skill and knowledge can compensate for rudeness, arrogance or laziness… like it or lump it, the people who get far in yachting (and in life) are those with a positive attitude.
When talking with captains and senior crew about hiring techniques, I always share a great tip I was given years ago when I first started hiring people myself: Hire character, train skill. This is because at any level the right kind of person will always be able to learn the intricacies of the job, but the wrong kind of person might have the skills you require but never be able to become the right kind of character to fit in with your yacht.
Cultivating a healthy positive attitude is especially important when you’re just starting out in your crewing career. You may have basic skills and little relevant experience, but show willing and work hard and you’ll find more opportunities will open up. If you’re further up the ranks a good attitude is really a core trait to be expected. It’s a sign of being a professional: maintaining a positive outlook and staying calm under pressure is essential when others are looking to you for direction and leadership.
A positive attitude can also help your career longevity. Few people seem to consider that when you’re on a yacht working long hours, just getting the job done isn’t enough to guarantee your job security. Going about your work with a smile and a positive attitude massively increases your value to the yacht and your colleagues, and can really change your working environment for the better. The way you behave and what you think about your situation makes all the difference to your experience and that of those around you.
For those who need a little help making this shift, the secret to having a positive attitude is gratitude. (It’s handy that they rhyme as it makes it easier to remember!) When you develop an attitude of gratitude you appreciate everyone and everything around you, which helps you to retain a positive mindset about your situation and the people you interact with. We can sometimes become complacent about our surroundings and forget how grateful we were when we first got offered the job – or how much better off we are than others in far less privileged positions. Reconnect with that gratitude and notice how it changes your outlook for the better.
In addition to reminding yourself to be thankful for everything that is going well in your job and your life, it helps to appreciate and acknowledge those around you who have helped you get to where you are today. When was the last time you sent someone a thank you card, or stopped to let someone know just how much you appreciate what they did for you to help you gain the position you now have?
Sadly this seems to be a bit of a lost art, but in the ‘olden days’ it was normal to send cards and flowers or even a bottle of champers to thank the crew agents, accommodation owners and others who went above and beyond to help you get a great new job.
What you appreciate appreciates – in other words, keeping a positive attitude of gratitude helps to grow more of the things you are grateful for – whether that’s positive relationships, a happy work environment or a successful career. Try it, it works ;)
And it wouldn’t be right for me to finish off this article without thanking you dear reader, for reading my posts and helping to spread the word about me and what I do to help people build successful yachting careers. I appreciate it very, very much, from the bottom of my heart.
Who has helped you over the years? Post your comments below to thank them publicly for everything they’ve done for you!
Alison Rentoul is ex yacht crew with 15 years of yachting experience, and a professionally trained personal development coach working with crew worldwide, helping them realise their highest potential at every level. See www.thecrewcoach.com for more information.