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Living by the Seafarer’s Code
Merchant sea traders have a simple code they live by: you shall assist a carrier in distress regardless of your personal affiliations. It applies to competitors and non-competitors alike – no matter if, at ordinary days, both of you vie to get more business than the other. This same code was applied even during the height of the Cold War between democratic and socialist countries – what they see is the need to help and not the flag which the boat is carrying. The code is simple: aid a fellow seafarer in need with the hope that you’ll receive the same assistance if you’re ever in the same situation too. You see, having engine problems or getting stranded in the middle of the sea is a whole different ballgame than when you have problems with your car. You can just pull your car over, call for a towing service and flag a taxi to get you to your destination. You can’t do the same to a boat unfortunately, you can either wait for help to arrive or take out the oars and row to the nearest shore. The latter even depends on how big the boat is by the way. So do you see how important it is to get help out in the big blue?
This symbiotic relationship is not unique to seafarers; the same rule can be applied to everyday life and business too. Practicing this code in business and being a recipient of it should the need arise all depends on you. Here are some ways to make sure you won’t be left floundering:
Network: Join organizations where you can learn or be involved in the business you’re in. Knowing the people in your industry is a big plus. Not only because you’ll know who your competitors are but also what’s the latest news in the business. A personal relationship with them gives your group that certain honorable pledge where competition is in the work quality and not in any underhanded methods.
Extend help, as much as you can, to both regular and non-regular clients: Needless to say, you’ll earn a good reputation with this attitude.
Extend help, as much as you can, even to your competitors: It could be as simple as referring a client to them when you’re fully booked or lending them equipment for an urgent requirement they have. Like the seafarers, they will remember what you did and you can bank on their help should you be the one with problems.