Chat with Students

John GattiBy John Gatti10 May 202218 Minutes

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

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

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

Abstraction, especially at school, is the first thing we face. Teachers often explain matters that they have never practised, and they may not update the arguments they deal with.

On the one hand, it is correct because knowledge represents the base to build your career, the foundations on which to base your experiences; on the other, it will be insufficient if there is no clear idea of 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 inshore companies; there will be no awareness of the strength of a character necessary to overcome minor and significant problems in loneliness. A force 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 from 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 yourself?

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 exact 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 peaceful 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 of meetings with men who have already been there—Looking for answers to what 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, hands, facial expressions, words, and silence, consciously or unconsciously, and the more we are good at doing it, the more we become effective in transmitting what we want.

But there is a considerable difference between communicating spontaneously and communicating 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 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 relationships with people: there are too many few occasions to enhance this skill.

I realised the need to improve in this respect, and I started following several neurolinguistic and public speaking programming courses. They have been formative experiences, able to clarify the effects of words in the various contexts, help me consider the points of view of the people I compare, and understand the importance of feedback.

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

This is the era of immediately complete information: books, television, web, courses, only spoiled for choice. The possibilities to fill the gaps are available to everyone. It is sufficient to identify those that are for our 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 communicating with knowledge of the cause. On average, they last a week. They will help you ensure 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, speaking the English language is fundamental!

We can say that this matter represents a problem that places Italians in a disadvantageous position compared to the inhabitants of other nations.

In Northern European countries, English is the second language. Apart from their importance to this matter, films in the original language lead 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, then move to English, and maybe watch television in the 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 good school is a new experience that allows you to get to know uses, costumes, and people. It’s essential to avoid other Italians: it must be total immersion, inside and out of school.

Two full months will take you ten years ahead in studying this language.

After the course, 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 relaxation 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 define in real-time, facilitating reading.

Let us summarise:

– 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 we are different from each other. A personalised preparation would work on your real potential, but it is a problematic and applicable thing in reality.

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

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

The concept of “6”.

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

Teachers’ questions and exams are the system judgment tool, and being 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 sure?

Let’s widen the frame of the picture and get a look at a more significant piece of life: do you want 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 your knowledge, understand what is helpful to you and adapt it to your personality to get to your goals.

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


It cannot be generalised, yet I am convinced that, in many cases, the problem originates from the automatisms using the brain.

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

But in life, does it 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 with fewer scruples, more motivated, others still recommended, or men or women who will be found in the right place at the right moment.

Nothing will be obvious.

Everything can change and will not always depend directly on you. That’s why I want to talk to you about a deliberately provocative concept:

The art of getting by!

A good student demonstrates a sense of responsibility, constancy, seriousness, and reliability; he manages to program the study constructively and effectively; He has a method.

Essential qualities, but not sufficient, often collide – because they originate from different contexts – with those that can make a difference in achieving 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 were, to be able to do it, it would be necessary to leave the schemes, be able to contest the obvious, having developed that quality is known as “the art of arranging by yourself” (look for ways to do things).

Where do I want to go? I’m saying that you shouldn’t study? That is beneficial; 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 in passing them, from those who try not to give up anything because even the holidays, friends and girls are essential.

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

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

Now and then, overcome the wall and feed your art to arrange by yourself.

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 relatively regular cadence. If we analyse them within a vast temporal setting, we realise 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 will 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, to define the plan and the main steps.

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 imagine a path without prospects: You would seek your way looking at three hundred-sixty different directions, wasting resources and time by engaging in things that you 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 undoubtedly 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, several tools are made available by technology that helps the organisation. Below is a list of some apps 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 realise 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 want to add that intelligence is a vital component of success in life. Still, mental opening – the ability to accept feedback as a constructive component – gives the possibility to use even the Intelligence of others.

Good luck!