Chat with students

John GattiBy John Gatti5 Marzo 202119 Minuti

I have had conferences in front of guys who aspire to a career in the merchant navy and to see, almost always, the lack of knowledge on what will wait for them once the diploma achieved.

The decision to work at sea is born, most often, from imagination, from romance, from the idea of a world built on “heard” and elaborated by the imagination of a teenager attracted by adventure.

Starting from school, obviously generalising, we try to figure out how it should be lived and what it can be done to optimise this period.

Abstraction, especially at school, is the first thing we face. Most of the time teachers explain matters that have never practiced, and the arguments they deal may not be updated.

On the one hand it is right, because knowledge represents the base to build your career on, the foundations on which to rest your experiences; on the other, it will be insufficient, if there is no clear ID on what is ahead.

If we do not clarify this, the ingredient of a reality told by those who have lived in a few square metres, alongside men of different nationality, religions and habits, will be missing; from someone who knows a hierarchical system which has little to do with that applied in shore companies; there will be no awareness of the strength of a character necessary to overcome small and great problems in loneliness. A force that must have a different thickness, when you have hundreds of meters of water, around a sea-layer and family and friends so far away that it appears to be of another world.

How will your life change when you walk on the gangway of your first ship?

What will your practical tasks be? What will you expect from you?

How can you get ready to take better to face what awaits you?

You will experience that they will make you grow much faster than the boys of your age who will not undergo the same change of life, this is certain, but how many of you will be able to overcome the trauma of the first negative experiences, how many of you will give up the quiet world they know to face the unknown future of a future you can’t even imagine?

Experience the school / work alternation, and contacts with people who work at sea, actively. Take advantage of the opportunities for meetings men who have already been there, looking for answers to the things you don’t know. Be curious.

Below I will signal some of the points on which, in my opinion, you will have to concentrate attention:


Communication is one of the most important things you can learn and the school period must serve as a cutter to make the tip to what will be one of the weapons that will give you more satisfaction in life.

We all communicate. It is simply impossible not to communicate. We do it with the voice, with the hands, with facial expressions, with words and with silence, consciously or unconsciously, and more we are good at doing it, the more we become effective in transmitting what we want.

But there is a huge difference between communicating in a spontaneous manner and communicate as clearly as possible to avoid being misunderstood.

As I have already written, work at sea helps to grow quickly, but it does it for certain things not for everything. On the one hand it helps, for example, to count on themselves, to have respect for the hierarchy, rules and to be responsible; on the other hand, as it is easy to intuit, it does not help in relationship with people: there are simply too many few occasions to enhance this skill.

At some point in my life, I realized the need to improve in this respect and I started following several neuro linguistic and public speaking programming courses. They have been constructive experiences, able to clarify the effects of words in the various contexts, to help me consider the points of view of the people with which I compare me, to make me understand the importance of feedback.

You might be prepared but – if you are not able to effectively transmit 100% of what you know – in questions, exams, in the work interviews, will decrease your value perceived in proportion to how much emotion, or in wrong words chosen, they will have filtered.

This is the era of immediatly complete information: books, television, web, courses, there is only spoiled for choice. The possibilities to fill the gaps are available to everyone, it is sufficient to identify those that are for our own case.

Going into the practical, I advise you to attend a PLN course (neuro linguistic programming) because they will give you the theoretical bases to begin to communicate with knowledge of the cause. On average they last a week. They will help you make sure that the emotional side is not an obstacle between you and what you want to transmit.

A door will open, beyond which you will find something that will condition your way of behaving.

The importance of English.

Good. At this point we go to another true statement even if taken for granted: today speak English language is fundamental!

Generalizing, we can say that this matter represents a problem that places Italians in a disadvantage position compared to the inhabitants of other nations.

In Northern European countries English is the second language. Apart from the importance they give to this matter, the use of films in the original language leads them to learn it from children.

Well, this is a good habit you need to start following you. You can start using the Italian subtitles, and then move to those in English and maybe get to watch television in original language without subtitles.

But if English is so important, why take this “problem” for life?

The advice I give you is to think about a summer vacation in England. A valid school, a new experience that allows you to get to know uses, costumes and different people. It’s important to avoid other italians: it must be a full immersion, inside and out of school.

Two full months that will take you ten years ahead in the study of this language.

After the course, just dedicate a few tens of minutes a week to maintaining what you have learned. It will be sufficient to download a program like ABA English or Bubbel to practice in a relaxed manner, and continue to watch movies in the original language. Even the English books offered by Kindle work: touching the word you don’t know how to make the definition in real time, facilitating reading.

Let us summarize:

– Look at the movies in the original language.

– Attend a Full Immersion Summer Course in England.

– Download an English course on your mobile phone, iPad or computer.

– Read English books on Kindle.

The school generalizes.

He does it and has always done so because each of us is different from the other. A personalized preparation would work on your true potential, but in reality it is a difficult applicable thing.

The school sets a program and gives everyone to reach a certain level of knowledge.

Unfortunately the adopted system goes behind some “side defects” which, if not identified and fought, will act from imprinting on your character and your personality.

The concept of “6”.

The “6” corresponds to the sufficiency, or certifies the fact that you are prepared as enough to move forward.

Teachers’ questions and exams are the system judgment tool and be ready to skip these obstacles is your primary goal.

If you follow the rules you will be promoted.

Quite right! The solution is simple: follow the rules.

But are you really sure?

Let’s widen the frame of the picture, get a look at a bigger piece of life: do you really want a work from “6”, a relationship from “6”, friends from “6”, a life from “6”? Or do you think, how do I think, that you have to settle only the best?

The school offers you a standard preparation, it’s up to you to expand knowledge, understand what is useful to you and adapt it to your personality to get to your goals.

I traveled the same school path that you are following now; I have sons son’s friends who have, or have had problems and doubts similar to yours; I met and dealt with so many guys who attend or attended the nautical school. This experience allows me to express a thought that arises, more or less, from a reasoned statistics: not always the best at school reach the highest goals, indeed, more often the opposite is true.


Here too it cannot be generalized, yet I am convinced that, in many cases, the problem originates from the automatisms using the brain.

Who is good at school, who is responsible, who is always prepared for questions and exams, tends to convince himself that “if he behaves well, the result is right in law”.

But in life does it really work like this?

Unfortunately no, and this is a certainty.

In life you will meet competitors who will have a “toolbox” filled with tools other than yours, more screwed people and with less scruples, more motivated, others still recommended or, simply, men or women who will be found in the right place at the right moment.

Nothing will be obvious.

Everything can change at any time and will not always depend directly from you. This is why I want to talk to you about a deliberately provocative concept:

The art of arranging.

Who is good at school demonstrates the sense of responsibility, constancy, seriousness, reliability; He is a person who manages to program the study in a constructive and effective way; He has a method.

Important qualities, but not sufficient, who often collide – because they originate from different contexts – with those that can make a difference to achieve success.

If I have, as an employer, to give a task to do, I am sure that the latter will apply seriously and, being reliable and responsible, will take it forward to the best. I would have any doubts if I would entrust him with a non-ordinary task where, to be able to do it, it would be necessary to leave the schemes, be able to contest the obvious, having developed that quality known as “the art of arrangiarsi” (look for ways to do things).

Where do I want to go? I’m saying that you shouldn’t study? That is benefited who does not apply?

No, absolutely, but I invite you, sooner or later, to overtake the wall that separates you from the boys who jump the school, who are preparing for exams only at the last moment, however, succeeding in some way to pass them, from those who try not to give up anything because even the holidays, friends and girls are important.

You have to get out of the boundaries of social programming, circumvent the rules and conventions, risking something to make a new experience, change habits … while remaining guys who apply.

Difficult, not impossible, but who has ever said that conquer the right balance in life is easy?

Every now and then Overcome the wall and feed your art to arrange you.

The objectives.

Let’s go back to the school limits and let’s do it going on how, day after day, year after year, works to form a very thick synapse in your brain.

The objectives follow a rather regular cadence and, if we analyze them within a vast temporal setting, we realize that each of these is very close to each other; For example, being prepared for the Query of the next day, for that of the following week  and, pushing us a little further, we reach the maximum to overlook the goal for the achievement of the diploma.

I’m sure if I ask what will you do at forty, I would put you in difficulty. Perhaps it would happen even if I asked if you will navigate or not, or on what ships you will chase your career: will they be passengers, oil tankers or tugs?

To reach a goal it is necessary, first of all, define the goal and the main steps.

It is obvious that the future imagined at 14, 15 or 16 years will hardly be the definitive one and that, therefore, will suffer wheel changes as the ideas will make more clear and concrete.

Try to to imagine a path without prospects: You would seek your path looking at three hundred-sixty different directions, wasting resources and time by engaging in things that may never use.

Now think of a dream to come from here to twenty: go ahead, day after day, advancing between two tracks, with clear ideas about what you need to get there, on what will be the next step of the ladder that will take you to success. During this journey you will certainly lose the route, but thanks to the focus of your lens you will notice and, with a rudder stroke, you will put the bow back in the right direction.

In addition to the good habit of thinking and planning, there are several tools, made available by technology, which help in the organization. Below is a list of some applications I use daily:

– “Google Calendar” for commitments and deadlines;

– “GtaskSpro” to remind me of things;

– “Mindly” to structure the concepts, to make brainstorming and planning projects;

– “SimpleMind”, a program for mental maps, to put thoughts in order and generate new ideas.

There are so many others. Find your modus operandi.

As I write, I realize that there would be many other things to say, Addressing various aspects from different points of view, but I think it can now be enough.

I just want to add that intelligence is an important component to succeed in life, but mental opening – understood as the ability to accept feedbacks as a constructive component – gives the possibility to use even the Intelligence of others.

Good luck!