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  • Giving up? No way!

    10/03/2015 | Auckland

    In this 'Schouten Blog' Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel (director coaching Schouten Global and coach of Team Brunel) writes, among other things, about her experiences in the talent-selection process, the training sessions on Lanzarote, her presence in the ports of the stop-overs of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015.

    Ending up fifth again, despite the daring move of taking the northern route that yielded an advantage of 80 NM and having to give in to that. It’s’ tough, really tough. Team Brunel’s disappointment is immense. And at the same time there’s their decisive quest for answers: what went wrong? Where can we do better? Because, no way they will give up. I have confidence in their optimism, resilience and connectedness and their will to search for improvement of performance. Because, if you let your head hang down now, how will you ever get the energy to go for it full force later on?

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    We navigate in the dark towards them between the islands of New Zealand. A little green spotlight in the distance, a black sail, and then we spot the guys. They’re all yelling at us, glad to see us. But you can feel the silence, the incredible disappointment. Accompanied by many little boats they harbour in the middle of the night, kiss their wives, are being hoisted up the stage, interviews, medical screening and then there are the first stories sitting at the table. They’re affected, silent, upset; everyone is disappointed in his own way. They have a hard time with it. Because they ended up fifth again and because of the way it happened. How did it go wrong? Where could they have done better? About that, they do have some ideas. That’s good. Nevertheless, in the early morning I got home with a  heavy load on my mind: I had wished them a better result!

    Decisive
    The next morning we start with breakfast and the debriefing. The skipper outlines the leg: what went right and where miles were lost. There are the first reactions. Maybe, you would expect an reproachful atmosphere, but there isn’t any. Sure, mistakes have been made. But this team is whole heartedly convinced of each other’s qualities. No doubt about that. Issues that do arise: What is needed to turn those qualities into profit? How do we address the team-strengths even better? That conversation isn’t easy. It takes some pushing and pulling. Impressive to see how these guys speak up out of trust and driven by commitment and disappointment, even though sometimes it has to come from their toes. ‘What I think can improve…’, ‘What I missed is….‘ Delicate issues. ‘Speaking up’ in optima forma. Appealing to each other like that, confronting and letting it all out, without blaming or finger pointing, is necessary to obtain movement.

    Energy, connectedness, exploration
    What explicitly comes up, is the exchange of information and communication. Right from the start I have been emphasizing that, especially when it comes to important decisions. After all, you cannot ‘win’ alone. Not in companies and not in one-design boats. There are challenging situations in which you can use the input of others very well and you should share more information with each other. It doesn’t matter if you are right, what matters is that you come up with new perspectives and share your opinion. Effective communication patterns that have to do with energy, connectedness and exploration* can make the difference. By communicating more, you will connect more direct to each other and get access to new ideas or perspectives. If you make decisions based on that, it may lead to new insights. Management ‘new style’ is what they jokingly call it over here already. That’s what it’s about now. Tough nuts are cracked, but it is so groundbreaking. 

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    During their time off period, again hard work is being put into expanding technical and strategic knowledge. Backon the base, skipper and sailors continue the first debriefing in one-to-one conversations. During the overall crew meeting the figures are discussed also and areas of improvement are structurally embedded into the context on board. For example, how do you physically create a situation that evokes to converse with each other? And talking about context: how fantastic are the supporters of Team Brunel who encourage, think along, and speak up out of optimism and trust? Why should anyone let his head hang down? The guys are equipped with the right qualities, directly followed by a determined motivation to really perform excellent at the next leg.

    Friends club?
    It surprises me that, because of its positivity, Team Brunel sometimes is being qualified as a friends club. As if being optimistic doesn’t go well with being performance driven. On the contrary. Yes, their mutual connectedness is big, we did work hard on that, but it’s not a friends club. It’s a group loaded with qualities, energetic and optimistic and continuously trying to get the best out of themselves and each other. Humor is their ‘vehicle’ to confront each other. Exactly their optimism and will-power is what gives them energy to continuously search for better ways to improve their performance and go for it with everything they’ve got.

    For more information about Managing interaction, Collaboration skills and Communication skills, click here.

    *Effective patterns of communication are all about energy, connectedness and exploration

    Energy - has to do with being expressive in your gestures, your tone of voice, eye contact, being concise and to the point, and listening as much - or even more – than you talk.
    Connectedness - not only being connected with the leader or your (soul)mate, but with everyone in the team. And doing social things together as well.
    Exploration - being open to new ideas and perspectives that come from inside and outside of the team increases your creativity in finding new solutions.

    Nothing from this blog may be reproduced without written permission from Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel of Schouten Global.

    Update Team Brunel, March 10, 2015 
    by Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel, Director Coaching - Schouten Global
    Coach - Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

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