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Let me come straight to the point. Are you the one who keeps on lamenting about your career at sea?
If not for yourself, then you must have come across such people for sure either at sea or on land. Whichever is the case, the point is – this is a common sight nowadays. And frankly speaking, this constant cry has now become a cacophony – the single most reason why it is all the more important to deal with this issue head-on.
Before you make any first-hand opinion about me or thoughts that I want to portray through this article, I should tell you that why I took today to my blog to talk about this trend which is constantly attacking the very spirit of seafaring. I will explain it clearly but all I need is a little patience from your side and at the end, I will leave you with something to introspect about.
The amount of complaints with this profession is huge – No family time, Lesser money compared to other jobs, no work-life balance, and the list goes on.
What we fail to realize as a seafarer is that it’s a job and like many other jobs it comes with its pros and cons.
The other day, I was watching an interview with Jeff Bezos (just in case you do not know he is the founder of Amazon.com). In a reply to a question he said this one line that made me think hard. What he said was this – “Every job in this world comes with its shortcomings. The sooner you accept it the better it is else you are not doing justice to what you are doing”.
This single line struck me especially because it was coming from the mouth of the world’s richest man. After all, we as human beings, are constantly influenced by what others are saying. Isn’t it?
Now, I don’t want to sound philosophical and trick you into outlining the pros and cons of this job compared to others, simply because this has been a part of the majority of tea-time conversation onboard the ships which all you have been a part of.
What I want to state is that if you are complaining about your job out at sea, then you are not doing enough justice to yourself – forget about the job. So, it’s high time you change your job! But just don’t curse something which is bringing food to your table.
A peculiar thing which you all must have observed is that these constant complaints are not only limited to seafarers but applies equally to all other professions. You can put it this way that no matter where a human being is working he will always have a complaint about his workplace. The work-life imbalance is his favorite complaint.
Now, a lot of you will ask, if every other professional is complaining what is so big a deal if I am complaining.
Seafaring is among the oldest profession and the noblest one. No matter how technologically advanced we become, a ship will still sail over the high seas. And that my friend, requires a plethora of qualities such as attitude, leadership, management, problem-solving skills, courage, and most of all – nerves of steel. This constant lamenting and cry depicting a seafarer’s despair, has harmed and continues to harm the very fabric of the seafaring profession. And that is why it is very important to stop this lamenting immediately to ensure that this ship continues to sail.
This constant hue and cry is mostly made by the seafarers themselves and sheds an unfavorable light on the seafaring profession as a whole. Imagine how it affects the younger generations who are drawing inspiration from their seniors.
Many case studies taught in Harvard Business School comprises of studying world-renowned seafarers. Just imagine, they teach the world leadership and management skills, problem-solving, attitude, team building, strategy, and many other skills by using an example of a seafarer. This is simply because where else will you find so many skills and traits in a SINGLE PERSON? And that is where the seafaring profession stands apart from other professions.
By taking a seafarers example, the world is creating future leaders and here we are trying to demean the same profession through our constant complaints. Something to think about. Isn’t it?
I am not saying that everything is hunky-dory in this profession. There are genuine problems that seafarers undergo. I ran a poll across various social media platforms asking about what is the biggest concern a seafarer has in present times?
Quite surprisingly, a maximum number of people voted for “Revision of wages” while the “Shorter contract” was voted second but with a very wide margin from the first. Maybe they found “revised wages” a compensation for “longer contracts”.
Well, that’s just my guess.
Moreover, almost negligible ones voted for “Improved Social Security Benefits” which by far is one of the most important things which a seafarer is unaware of. This thing should be given serious thought by everyone, especially maritime unions.
I guess we as seafarers. should assume responsibility for whatever is ‘wrong’ with this profession. If the wages have not increased with time, it is because we, as seafarers, never put the whole-hearted effort in demanding for the same. If contracts are not being shortened, then are we doing something about it? How many times have we approached our unions and called for ensuring that social security benefits are improved?
We all proudly flaunt our uniform-clad pictures over all of our social media accounts but sadly live up to it. Constant complaints only add salt to the wound and put this noble profession under bad optics.
“If you can’t be a part of the solution, you are a problem”
I learned from one of my Filipino seafarers regarding the concept of Learn, Earn and Return. To put it simply – first, you learn the job, then you earn from it, and finally share your learnings and experiences with your juniors and ‘return’ back to your profession what you gained from it in the first place.
We all did the first two, how many of us are doing the last one?
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