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Defining Success: Are You Propulsion or Propulsion Support?

PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 15, 2009) Guided-missile destroyers USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Hopper (DDG 70), and USS Russell (DDG 59) sail in formation during the Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific Surface Combatant Group Sail. The group sail supports the Pacific Fleet MIDPAC Surface Combatant Operational Employment program, which calls for nine of the 11 Hawaii-based surface combatants to focus on the western Pacific Ocean by conducting intermediate and advanced training and regular deployments in the western Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael A. Lantron/Released)

Are you Moving Your Dream Forward or Someone Else’s Dream Forward?

Coast of Libya, 2011 — Where one statement changed my perspective forever. It was March and late at night, a unseasonably warm night on the water. I was standing watch on the bridge of the ship with a senior Officer.

We were chatting as we steamed around the Mediterranean as the designated Search and Rescue ship during Operation Odyssey Dawn. Air Force helicopters flew overhead, taking turns in holding patterns and touch-n-go’s on our flight deck.

Nighttime always brought interesting conversation on the bridge.

This particular night, we were discussing departments of the ship and the role they played in our success. Out of pure curiosity and some naivety I pondered, “What is the most important department on the ship?”

With a small grin that began to show through the darkness of the night, he turned to me and said, “There are only two departments aboard ships: Propulsion and Propulsion-Support.”

Now there are actually many departments and divisions on ships: Combat, Operations, Weapons, Navigation and many more. He boiled it down to two: the department that literally get’s us through the water and everybody else.

A rudimentary and trite comment that I chuckled at briefly. But then it made me think.

Since that night, that statement has never left me. It has guided my decision to take on what I consider to be my ship and sail it out to sea.

Life is an ocean. And every dream, every goal, every aspiration a ship.

Some ships never leave port. They sit and collect rust to never know their true capacity for sailing the wide and vast ocean.

Some ships leave port, captained by a one and his staff, and pick a crew along the way.US Navy Ships

Others leave port with an entire ship’s company, packed to the gills with sailors. But only one Captain and his staff lead the way.

So that begs the question — Are you propellers in the water or are you auxiliary equipment for a dream, goal, or aspiration? Are you driving your ship through the water, or are you helping someone else’s get to his or her intended port?

Not everyone wants to be propulsion. Shafts on a ship intended for a destination never stop turning. Radars can be turned off, weapons can be stowed, lights can be dimmed.

But to reach a destination, propellers must always be turning. In calm seas, heavy winds, or treacherous seas – they always turn.

So what are you – propulsion or propulsion support?

About the author, Tim

US Navy Surface Warfare Officer.
Lacrosse Player.

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