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  • Unexpected setbacks? Embrace them!

    26/06/2015 | Gothenburg


    I enjoy my role as host of Schouten Global's seminars on Leadership: The human factor. The seminars are held at each stopover. And while our team remains the same, our audience and their culture are different at each location. Our team's journey together has been one, big adventure. Like Team Brunel, we have developed into a flexible, high performance team. We engage unexpected events and setbacks as challenges, which can deliver great results. 

    In my role as host I tell stories that illustrate our message, I introduce the guest speakers and I try to make a connection between the race and the local situation. It is great that, as the host, you can also be a bit naughty. The link between nautical and naughty has become a running gag with Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel, our keynote speaker and Team Brunel coach. I always introduce her with, 'She puts the naughty into nautical.'

    It is also fun to play with the fact that I am English and to present alternative lyrics to the sounds of the unofficial national anthem of England, Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves: 'If you want to rule the waves, you cannot afford to waive the rules.' Which refers to the strict discipline of the sailing world. It has roles, tasks and responsibilities, which are not negotiable. You must perform - do what you have to do. I continue with, 'They are men of hull and sail and keel and deck … and yet we emphasize the importance of communication, a matter of heart and soul and talk and share'. Because no one gets there alone. They must do it together - a ship is only as good as its crew. But how do you achieve this communication? It is a bold step, completely new in the sailing world. And it is the focus of Anje-Marijcke's continuous coaching - and something in which everyone in Team Brunel has shown development. It is great to see the extent to which these heroes - which is what they are - are open to this. And how she has achieved this in a rugged, macho, man's world. 

    Connection is more important than perfection
    Initially I was heavily focused on the seminar script, the delivery of which was pretty much timed down to the last second. Now I have become more flexible in this regard. Things never go as planned anyway. Bouwe, for example - really a man with a vision - just does his own thing and the public cannot get enough of him.  And you have to just let that happen. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that connection is more important than perfection. That is what it is about, and you have to be flexible in this regard.

    Dare to connect. I have come to realize that this is the real benefit of our seminars, wherever we are in the world. The real communication benefit is not just contained in the three and a half hour seminar. It is also in the connection that takes place afterwards - at the networking lunch, where strangers make contact with each other by chance, chat and exchange ideas and business cards. In Newport we have even set up a 'think factory', to stimulate the exchange of ideas.



    The unexpected embrace
    The seminar in Abu Dhabi taught me how valuable it is to always expect - and embrace - the unexpected. To embrace it! Because this is when unexpectedly good things often happen. Halfway through the seminar, as it happened, there was suddenly a power failure due to an overheated generator. First response: panic, as it very quickly became very hot in the room. We quickly got everyone outside and started the networking lunch early. This turned out really well. As a result, people had much more time to network. Then Bouwe announced that everyone was welcome on the boat. Wow! Fantastic, of course - but what an organization task! We had to arrange all sorts of things, including security and permission from the VOR administration. All seemingly impossible, in the short time available. Nevertheless, our team faced up to the challenge - and sorted it all out! Our guests had an amazing experience. So good things can happen unexpectedly, but you must learn to deal with this process. The experience certainly improved my own ability to react spontaneously.

    Walking the talk
    The seminars were a success, everywhere. It was also great to see the development that took place in our seminar team. The small group of people from the Dutch town of Zaltbommel, that followed Team Brunel around the world, really excelled itself in becoming a high performance team. That in effect, was our race, and we were successful in it. Every stopover meant further growth. This, of course, perfectly fits the message we bring to our audience: to succeed you need a high performance team. Like Team Brunel we had to learn to deal with disappointment and things going wrong; we had to learn to share information with each other, to give good feedback, to exploit our talents. We walked our talk. And it worked. We became our message.



    Profile: Jim Morris

    Jim Morris is normally a senior trainer/consultant at Schouten Global. Since November 2014 he has been the regular host of Schouten Global's international seminars at the Volvo Ocean Race stopovers. 

    Jim lives and breathes culture: English by nationality, he lives in the Netherlands and works all over the world, facilitating professional learning and development. He specializes in intercultural communication training programs. Jim grew up in the UK, where he started his career, and lived for long periods in Australia and Canada. He has worked extensively throughout Central Europe and Asia, running workshops and delivering keynote speeches.


















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