I will let you in on an experience. Something not everyone knows. Something not everyone knows they can get. An experience that will prove you that when you learn to lead a team under these situations, you can lead under any and I mean any situation without the slightest of apprehensions.
As a merchant marine, you learn to adapt, not to panic and stare straight at trouble knowing fully well if thing go a little on the wrong side it could mean death to someone. But most importantly you learn to lead, yourself and others. Leading becomes second nature to you like breathing, voluntarily and involuntarily. Here’s a couple of scenarios where you know there is nothing to do but to stand up and take the lead. It’s either that or perish. Which one would you rather choose?
You go to sleep at 2100 hrs. on a December evening in the middle of the stormy Atlantic. Five hours later, when it seems like a dream, you are thrown off your bed almost into the washroom of your cabin. The captain rings a blaring alarm and summons you on the deck where the wind blows at –13 Degree Celsius.
Why you ask? It’s simple.
There is a storm brewing and your vessel is heaving, almost nose diving some of the time into the frosty Atlantic. And when the 2 degree water gets thrown into the –13 degree wind blowing at a 100 Knots, you get a mountain of icicles landing straight on your deck. A lot of those and you destabilize your buoyancy. So you convince a team of 15 people with bags of salt who brace themselves against the –13 degree wind on the deck and ask them to look straight at the white mountain rushing at them.
When it does land on your deck, you throw the salt on it, make it melt and let it flow. When you can convince people to do that for you, what is it , if not leadership?
You are having a cup of tea inside your engine room. It’s 3’o Clock and you need a break right?
Your noses tinges at the smell of heavy oil and rush out to the engine platform to find 130 degree Celsius hot black oil sprouting like a whale from the High-pressure pipes, all over the E/R.
That’s when you look into the eyes of your crew and ask them to accompany you to help you head over to the emergency Shut Valve, fully aware of what burning hot oil will do to you or him, when it lands on you.
You lead by example. That’s what you do out there at sea. YOU LEAD.