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Imagine you are the Captain of a merchant ship
You know your ship and its crew very well
You have navigated your ship safely and sailed across the oceans
Now, you are about to enter the port
You have never been to this port before
The port has a very narrow entrance
You are also not very sure of the water depths in the port
You don't have all the local knowledge to navigate the ship in the port on your own
So what will you do ?
You will engage a pilot
When a ship approaches a port, it engages the services of a marine pilot or a harbor pilot
A pilot is an experienced and licensed professional, usually a Captain, who has extensive knowledge of the local port and local conditions such as :
- Local currents in the river or harbor
- Water depths in different parts of the river or channel
- Local dangers to navigation such as a shipwreck or rocks
- Port procedures and maritime regulations
- Local weather and tide conditions
The pilot comes onboard the ship usually near the port or river entrance ( using a small boat called the pilot boat ) and then assists the ship’s Captain in safely navigating the ship in port and coming alongside the berth
Similarly, when a ship is ready to leave the port, the pilot will come onboard and assist in navigating the ship out of the port
In most ports around the world, engaging a pilot is mandatory – this is to ensure both the safety of the ship and the safety of the port
When I was sailing, I have travelled to various ports across the world and worked together with many pilots
As Captain, I knew my ship very well, but I would usually not have all the local knowledge of each port we would visit, especially when visiting for the first time
No two ports are the same
..Some ports have very narrow entrances
..Some rivers have very sharp bends
..Some rivers have very strong currents which need to be countered
..Some ports have shallow depths and so on….
Each port would have its unique features and navigation process, which a ship’s Captain may not be familiar with
Infact, a ship’s Captain cannot be expected to know each and every detail of all the ports in the world – that’s simply not possible and practical
This is where the pilot comes in the picture
Now the interesting thing in all this engagement is the role of the pilot
The engagement of the pilot is only for small duration of time, as compared to the duration of the sea voyage
A sea voyage may last for several days or weeks, but a pilot is usually engaged for few hours, only when entering and leaving a port
The ship’s Captain remains in command all the time and is ultimately accountable for the ship and it's safety
The pilot is more like an adviser, a guide to the Captain
The relationship between a ship’s Captain and the pilot is of mutual trust and respect
While I have transitioned from being a ship’s Captain to a banker to a coach now, today, I see my role similar to that of a pilot for my clients
As a coach, I act as their trusted advisor, helping them navigate through uncertain times
When they are confused, when they have doubts, when they are afraid – I act as a pilot for them, helping them develop a new perspective, a new insight which can help them get clarity and confidence
But why am I telling you this ?
As a leader, you know how to run your business, how to manage your teams - no doubt about it
But no matter how good you are, no matter how much experience you have, there are and will be situations when..
..You don’t have all the answers
..You are confused, afraid, anxious
..You are full of self-doubts and worries
..You feel lonely
..You are stuck
..You don’t know what to do
..And times when you know what to do, but something will hold you back
In all these situations, what you really need a pilot – a friend, a mentor, a coach, a confidant
Someone who can act as a trusted advisor
Someone whom you can trust
Someone who can help you navigate through uncertain times, just like the pilot
The key is to reach out
To ask for help, to ask for support
There's an important distinction to understand here
You don't need a pilot forever
You only need the pilot either in specific situations or for a specific duration of time
Beyond that, you are good on your own - you have the right skills, the right experience to steer your ship ahead
Last, but not the least, don't forget one thing....
You can also be the pilot for someone else, right ?
Someone out there needs you
You can help steer someone else’s ship through difficult time
So here’s your reflection for the week :
1) What is the one reason why you don’t ask for help and support ? What really holds you back ?
2) If you had to reach out to just one person to be your pilot, who would that be ?
3) How can you be the pilot for someone you know ? Whom can you reach out to offer help and support ?
Do share your thoughts on the above