Confidence dented I booked a week-long RYA Day Skippers Practical Assessment, not so much to prove Gary wrong but to prove to myself I can do this. I passed and was welcomed home from the course by Gary and 2 of our very dear friends, hugs, laughter and champagne flowed, but the bit which will never leave me is Gary’s voice toasting my achievement when he said,
‘Never doubted it, I am so proud of you.’
The challenges of the assessment week were more than the RYA criteria, I had to join a skipper and a crew of four other people not to mention having to live 24/7 in close quarters with them. Something I did not relish as in my own time I am a private and introverted soul who gets their energy from being alone in a quiet space with time to reflect, consider options and focus deeply on the issues at hand. I am not shy, far from it, I am just different to those who compete to be heard, small talk is not something I enjoy but obviously, this week required me to man up and engage in lots of it. Yuk! I don’t see myself as competitive, well not outwardly, and early observations of this group of individuals hinted that there was a lot of testosterone and some precious egos to be massaged. To perform at our best we needed to become a team and fast, as a Leadership Coach much of this was familiar territory to me but on this occasion, my ticket as Day Skipper depended on it.
The team all had their own reasons for being on the boat, two of us were there to gain our Day Skippers qualification, one to build miles and the other two, complete sailing novices, were there to learn how to be competent crew members. It was interesting to observe how each crew member was initially operating as a lone ranger, this approach was never going to work and it was certainly not an environment I was comfortable in. I somehow found myself back in work mode, helping us all understand and appreciate each other’s goals and how collectively we could achieve greatness if we could just work in collaboration with each other. After the first day, we began to trust each other more, we started to give each other feedback, in fact, no one was really shy about making their point and on occasions, it lacked any positivity. Soon the art of giving a spoonful of sugar became more palatable and words of encouragement started to flow more freely, essential as we were all out of our comfort zone during this week.
After stormy cold days at sea, the evening mealtime became a welcome distraction from the 24/7 assessment. We all took our turns as chef, dishwasher and boat cleaner albeit some were better at cooking than others and I was in the category of could do better, it never has been my forte but I did my bit. Quickly it was realised that we all had to pull our weight and do what was expected of us, get up on time, listen to each other and make decisions in a timely and safe manner.
Undertaking this assessment channelled my thinking in a new way, living on a boat 24/7 with only my husband for company was going to be amazing and challenging. We would have to work as a team and shockingly I had never seriously considered this before. Of course, I knew we would have to work as a team, marriage is a team game but the adventures ahead would add a whole new dynamic – a changing environment where anxiety, self-doubt and an element of risk-taking could be at play almost daily.
I doubt we will always see eye to eye but appreciating our differing skills and needs will be essential. We all communicate differently and with this difference brings frustration but we both work hard at accommodating each other’s core preferences. Thank goodness that I have practised Discovery Insights for the last 10 years as this has certainly helped us understand each other and adapt our communication style to achieve harmony. I appreciate that Gary needs detail, fact and justification and I know he asks many questions of himself and others. He is a great problem solver and the solution is meticulously planned and executed with precision. Where I am a feelings orientated person and have to talk them through, I don’t need a solution just someone to listen and that’s hard as feelings are subjective and slippery little suckers at the best of times – feelings change where facts do not.
Oh gosh this will be interesting and to be honest, we have made it this far and everything worth having takes a degree of effort! In the end, our commitment to each other is about winning – not in the sports sense of beating the opponent but about seeing us as a team succeed and knowing we both contributed to that success.
Gary and I know the day we stop learning is the day we die and we shall never know enough about sailing but we continue to seek knowledge and experience and keep our can-do attitude.
We hope by sharing this article we give you some insight into the learning journey we have taken so far and that it supports you in yours.