Lessons from a Captain

I am going to admit something, I don’t talk about a lot. Here it goes. I am a fan of the TV show Below Deck. It’s reality TV, and this type of show always brings out the worst in people, but this show is different.

I think I like the show because I love boats and I love water. But aside from that, the thing that sticks out to me is the lessons on leadership that come from each excursion. I love watching how the captain handles the boat, the crew, and the guests. In the end, the key to success is always the captain.


Everything starts and ends with the captain on a boat. Think about it. Captains are not only in charge of a multimillion-dollar vessel, they are also responsible for the lives of the people on the boat.


I saw an interview with Captain Sandy Yawn, one of the stars from the TV show Below Deck - Mediterranean. If you watch the show, you know who I am talking about. If not, don’t worry about it – the lesson still applies!


Captain Sandy has been a boat captain for over 20 years. She worked up the ranks over the years by hard work, great schooling, and a desire to be the best, no matter what was stacked against her. In the interview, Captain Sandy talked about what she looks for when hiring, and I thought I would share these with you. When Captain Sandy is assembling her crew she looks for:


Ambition – Everything starts with ambition. Is the person willing to do what it takes to be successful? So many people want the prize, but they aren’t willing to put in the work to get it.


Open mindedness – Without an open mind, a person will never be able to learn. Additionally, without an open mind, a person is not coachable. There is nothing worse than a team who is not coachable.


Drive to learn – Learning can never take place if the individual does not have the drive to learn. There are so many opportunities each and every day for us to learn and become better, but if the drive is not there, those moments will pass.


I think these three things are so important because as leaders, as we pick our teams and our teammates, we need to know not only what we want, but what we don’t want. These simple guides can give us the framework for what to look for in our team. And when you find someone with these three characteristics, look out! Greatness is ahead.


Stop settling for the “good enoughs” and start pushing for the best. Find people that are ambitious, have an open mind, and possess the drive to learn and your team will become the best ever. When best becomes the standard, there is no telling how far you can go.


Until next time…I’m Marty, make every minute count.


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