This is not a musical story. It is however a glimpse of the Value Intrinsic of Living in the Navy (VIOLIN) as demonstrated by Stephen.
Stephen was a hardy soul who reported to the ship one fine morning as the Second in Command known in the Navy as the Executive officer ‘EXO” for short.
In his formal call on the Captain, Stephen in his inimitable simplistic style let the Captain know that he was indeed aware that he had no prospects of promotion but had decided to do his sea tenure to gain what he termed as an opportunity to be with the young of the navy. He also stated that he had “Chosen to Care” because he believed in being positive. The Captain was naturally curious to know more about this. Stephen stated “Sir, I enjoy being in the Navy. One day, a few thoughts struck me on life in our silent service, its plusses, and minuses, and I said to myself. ‘Hey wait! ‘let’s’ tabulate these and add up some equations.’ The result is an abacus
I tried hard to look at the negatives harshly and the positives miserly. Even then I realised that no matter what I did, the plus outweighed the minus.
I showed this to my wife, and she told me that her biggest security came from an assured knowledge, that the Navy would take care of her also.
We shared this with our children and what it means to each of us. From then on, this has inspired me to care for others and our fine service. Of course, I will be delighted to get promoted, but promotion or no promotion, I am going to run a balanced happy outfit. Let’s see what we can do as a team
The Captain made Stephen informally share this idea with the wardroom. The response ranged from enthusiasm to skepticism.
Stephen never spoke “I”. It was always “we can do”, “we must do, or “we will do”. At times he said “Gentlemen, whether the Captain is right or wrong doesn’t matter. We need to give him correct inputs and our free and frank suggestions. He is a thinking man and we can be sure if our ideas are worth it, he would accept them without question.
The young Turks took this up enthusiastically. The second level was wary, waiting to see whether this bubble of so called Christian goodwill would burst in the face of crisis.
Stephen disarmed them by blowing no bubbles of fairytale goodness. With him it was poise, practical, down to earth realism with straight forward civility.
The wardroom was in effect declared a no-combat – zone. Most issues were invariably diffused to non-issues through free and frank discussion and dialogue.
The motto of Stephen “Choose to Care” and his method of gently strumming the strings in the violin of life caught the imagination of the ship in a subtle sub-conscious manner. Outsiders were struck by the friendship, mutual consideration and poised presence of the officers and positive attitude of sailors. There was an air of comfort and well-being.
This did not mean that there were no crises or mistakes. The message Stephen managed to send was “Do not let fear of failure upset you and do not let actual failure retard you. Never hesitate to own up to mistakes. All human beings will make mistakes. This is the violin of life.”
Stephen and the Captain disagreed on many issues. Though they differed they were never disagreeable to each other. Circumstances and necessities often prevailed upon the decision arrived at.
Stephen always ensured that the decision taken, was followed in Letter and Spirit. The ship naturally performed very well.
Stephen never made it to the next rank. He however has been promoted many times in the minds of his shipmates. The Captain called two youngsters and told them to describe Stephen. This was what was the result. The first person, a Gunnery Specialist, said he was struck by Stephen’s personality hallmarks of: –
Listening and paying attention to suggestions from one and all.
His attitude towards care and welfare. The quality of food was
very good. It resulted in 80% of the in-living sailors staying onboard for dinner.
It is understood that this, combined with a well run video, provided a better option in comparison to alcohol at the Sailors’ Institute.
Participator management style in all whole-ship activities.
Pragmatic value system of dealing with all situations.
Forethought and anticipation for all ship evolution’s
which reduced tension all round.
Weekly planning and preparation in consultation.
Human resource management, balanced use of in-living and
Paying attention to administrative care of families.
Creation of a ships Council to look after
contingent requirements, particularly during sea deployments.
The second, an aviator, endorsed the above, saying Stephen was not only an efficient EXO, but a father figure too. He was instrumental in making the wardroom atmosphere friendly and cohesive. He declared Stephen to be a genuine human.
Curtain Call. Stephen’s style only highlights the positive aspects of a naval value system and its fruition into sensible, practical, leadership and management values. You may be “short of money, but never of ideas”; There may be a “shortage of things, but never of human spirit.”
Stephen continues to care. He and his captain remain friends.
The violin abacus is given below for those who chose to care.
VALUE INTRINSIC OF LIVING IN THE NAVY – VIOLIN
Job – family security – assured pay
Amenities – Clubs, gyms, Movie halls, playgrounds
Organized social support system
Experiential Education in:
Personal and Professional Growth Prospects
Life in an orderly disciplined mutually caring society
Mutual Respect and deference to age, seniority irrespective of Rank
Recognition- Commendations- Medals- Awards
Develop a “Can Do” Attitude. It will positively impact on Your self, Your family, and overall approach to your Life. You will surprised how it would change your way of living.
The Captain learnt from Stephen that “The choices you make Command the Life you Lead”.
Stephen’s violin still plays in the Captain’s Mind.