I am the team coach for an experienced team of Endurance Athletes rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, from New York to London. That’s the wrong way to row, and it’s going to be epic. In fact, when I mentioned it to a highly experienced friend of mine who has just returned from completing the Vendee Globe, She commented, “that’s going to be awful”. And that’s from someone who has just returned from the Southern Ocean.
Two of the group are serving Royal Marines, and two are former Royal Marines.
The crew will be living cheek by jowl for some 3 Months within the confines of a small ocean rowing boat which will surely endure everything the Atlantic Ocean can throw at them. We all know that the team dynamic will be tested during such an epic, and each of the athlete’s personal endurance pushed to its limits.
We have our first team coaching session on Monday; the theme is “Lumi Nod”. You see, this is a challenge that none of them has ever completed, and because they are all seasoned endurance athletes from individual sports backgrounds, they are used to relying upon their own endurance and skill to succeed. I am worried that they could be rusty on the old teamwork bit.
Previous “badges of honour” gained from past experience and individual events could potentially lead to a false sense of security, exposing weaknesses in a team environment.
This got me thinking about their past Royal Marines Training. To “level” new recruits up and teach them about the importance of individual effort in support of the team, the first phase of training is called Foundation. Foundation lasts for 2 weeks and is arguably the most challenging part mentally as new recruits adjust to their new world and learn to trust the team. For example, if one recruit is late or fails to perform to a certain standard, the whole group pays the price, much like on an Ocean row.
You would be amazed at how quickly this approach pulls the team together and how when some members feel stronger that day or are better at certain things, individuals start to help and support each other rather than criticise. It also teaches individuals that no one is stronger than the team, and that’s a fundamental of being a Royal Marine Commando.
Of course, each rowing team member knows how far they can push themselves and what they are capable of through experience, and that’s good to have in the locker. But I will be challenging the crew; Forget what you did yesterday; who are you today, and what are you prepared to do to make the boat go faster?
So why Lumi Nod – it’s simple. Royal Marine recruits are called Nods because they are constantly tired and Nod Off (fall asleep) even when stood up. During foundation training, Nods wear bright orange shoulder tabs to be identified. So they are Lumi Nods, of course!
Go back to the day’s when you were metaphorically a Lumi Nod; what are you going to do today to add value to your team effort?