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Through the Captain's window
Stories on Maritime Leadership
'We've been merging with tools since the beginning of human evolution, and arguably, that's one of the things that makes us human beings.'
Taking care of our health is a must for any leader. This will always be true, though there are new ways to track how well we are doing it. After all, you cannot improve what you cannot measure.
Lack of sleep is a big leadership killer. the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch reported that 'a third of all groundings involved a fatigued officer alone on the bridge at night'. Take for example the grounding of the Lysblink Seaways (MAIB report no. 25/2015). We all know the days we are irritable and moody when we haven’t had enough sleep. We get into an unhelpful state of mind which could cause us to make wrong decisions.
Enter the smart watch. I use one, and I like it. A few of my seafarer friends- some use it, some don’t. And not all of them leverage the smart watch for all its benefits.
One of the the most useful function is the sleep tracker. This is how it interprets my sleep from the previous night. You can see how I have cycled between the REM and non-REM sleep, and overall it looks I’ve been doing Ok for my age. It’s important - during the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system. Maritime professionals need also be aware that if the REM sleep is repeatedly interrupted or shortened, then longer REM “rebound sleep” tends to occur at the next opportunity in compensation (instead of slowly moving through the various stages of non-REM sleep first, the sleeper slips quickly into REM sleep, and stays there longer than usual). There are also long-term effects to chronic poor sleep- the risk of gaining weight, and becoming more prone to cardiovascular disease, infections, and certain types of cancer. The sleep tracker can help warn you when you aren’t getting enough sleep so you can prepare for sleep better next time.
The sleep tracker can help us take intentional steps towards improving our sleep quality
There are also other helpful features in the smart watch. You can track your daily calorie burn and cardio activity. Apps like At Work app can be used to record your work hours. Dictate notes when you are doing a tank inspection (in intrinsically safe environments). Set alarms to make sure you wake up in time for your next cargo watch.
Of course, it also tells time.
How else do you think smart watch can help mariners lead smartly?
Here's video link to the HE Alert Video on Fatigue:
#GoldenStripesLeadership #LessonsFromSea #Mariners #CaptainParani #MaritimeLeadership
"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves."
- Steven Spielberg
These days when I meet people at social events, I try to focus on getting to know others well rather than just focusing on exchanging business cards. When possible, I ask them their stories, and remind myself that there is something I can learn from everyone.
On one such endeavour, I met Mr. Georg Von Oppen. He is currently the Director of TMH Ltd. which serves the shipping industry in providing equipment spares. He narrated a story from the early years of his career:
After school, I didn’t have any particular direction in which to take my career. By chance, I joined TMH through a mutual acquaintance of my family. The manager of the factory asked me to work on the store-floor and learn about all the products. After a few weeks, he saw me on his rounds and stopped to assess my progress:
“How does this pressure gauge work?” He asked in his usual booming voice.
I gave a feeble response “You plug it into the socket and it reads the pressure”
“Yes, but what makes the gauge know what is the pressure in the pipe?”
I shrug my shoulders.
He then proceeded to explain to me about the Bourdon tube and how the radially formed tubes inside operate without any electrical power.
I had not grasped the underlying mechanical principles and I said so, shaking my head.
My boss was thoughtful for a minute, and then declared “You’re going to the gauge factory for two weeks. I will inform your supervisor about the arrangements”.
So, the next day I was off to the factory a hundred miles away. They were one of the world’s leading makers of precision pressure gauges and one could learn whatever there is to know about various gauges. I learnt in detail how these gauges could achieve precision at different pressure ranges, and work in various external environments, and what safety features were installed to ensure the gauges would not burst in front of the observer.
When I returned to TMH, I had a spring in my step. My boss observed this, and to test me, asked a few questions, which I promptly answered with pride. The fire of learning and passion for the job had been stoked within me, and there was no looking back.
It started as a short-term apprenticeship, but encouraged by the environment of mentoring, I stayed on at TMH. I could share my knowledge with clients and help them choose the right products for their industrial needs. This in turn helped my company build deeper relationships with their customers. Some years ago, my boss retired and passed on the reins of the company to me.
His act of mentoring helped me find the right direction for my career. He had challenged, inspired and motivated me. He didn’t spoon-feed me but he helped me find the right resource from which I could learn.
Telemachus and Mentor from Odyssey. In this depiction from the ancient Greek epic, Mentor (actually Athena in disguise) encourages Telemachus to stand up against the suitors for his mother, Penelope and go abroad to find out what happened to his father, Odysseus. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia commons.
These days, I make it a point to encourage my younger colleagues to go on similar learning trips and seminars. We share learning experiences from work and enable each other to create their own learning path. Based on my boss’ philosophy, that is how we view mentoring at TMH. I believe this is a great way to help leaders discover their own potential, and enhance their own leadership abilities.
TMH Cyprus website (http://tmh-eastmed.com/)
Captain VS Parani is the author of Golden Stripes- Leadership on the High Seas, Whittles Publishing (http://www.whittlespublishing.com/Golden_Stripes), and on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Stripes-Leadership-High-Seas/dp/1849953147)
"Our greatness has always come from people who expect nothing and take nothing for granted - folks who work hard for what they have, then reach back and help others after them."
- Michelle Obama
I met Professor Jeffrey Blum by chance in Limassol a few weeks ago. Although our meeting was short, I was left with an impression that we had known each other for a long time. He has been in the shipping industry for 45 years, which is from even before I was born! I mentioned this to a friend of mine who had been his student at the World Maritime University. He was full of admiration for Professor Blum and he also let me in on a little-known story of our mutual acquaintance.