Sailors and officers posted to the Navy’s Fleet Support Units have had the rare opportunity to learn from one of Australia’s foremost experts on communication and mindset.
In March and April, best-selling Australian author Chris Helder travelled to each Fleet Support Unit (FSU) across Australia to speak to staff at the invitation of the Executive Director of FSU, Captain Greg Laxton.
Chris Helder is known for his ‘Useful Belief’ approach, which focuses on individuals having belief systems that support them.
Helder’s approach is about more than just ‘positive thinking’, professing that positive thinking is about a feeling, while ‘useful belief’ is all about ‘action’.
The author encouraged the sailors in his audience to ask themselves questions such as “what’s the most useful thing to believe about this situation?” and “What’s the most useful thing I can do today to get me closer to where I want to be?”
“I first saw Chris Helder when he was the keynote speaker at a conference I attended,” Captain Laxton said.
“His way of speaking and his inspiring message helped me personally and I know he has helped organisations all over the world to think differently and better adapt to the more complex environments being faced,” he said.
The sessions were received well by FSU personnel around the country.
“I found the ‘useful belief’ brief very rewarding and now look at things in my work and personal life a lot differently,” Seaman Boatswains Mate Ellen Janouschek said.
“Instead of being positive or negative, I now look at how I can change my aspect on things and see a different side to it.
“I’ve started following Chris Helder on social media, and have written affirmations around my home for a daily reminder.
“It was definitely a life changing event for me, and I strongly recommend that anyone who wasn’t able to attend should read his book,” Seaman Janouschek said.
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Toni McMahon said Mr Helder’s talk provided practical ideas for living a better life.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the useful belief brief,” Able Seaman McMahon said.
“A lot of what Chris Helder said was something everyone could relate to, either personally or to someone they knew.
“He gave great ideas on how we can improve our lives both personally and professionally, and in a way that’s easily accomplished,” she said.
“I’ve found the concept of useful belief helpful in dealing with everyday situations, with the advice given being both achievable and refreshing,” Petty Officer Electronics Technician Kane Bradbury said.
“It provides simple and effective tools that people can utilise in their everyday work and personal lives.
“All-in-all it was a very worthwhile experience and I would recommend it to anyone to attend Chris Helder’s useful belief presentation if they have the opportunity”.
Maritime Logistics Supply Chain sailor, Leading Seaman Aaron Knight said he would draw on the lessons he learned in Helder’s session when going through tough times.
“The useful belief presentation was excellent all around.
“I don’t feel as if it’ll change the way I operate or make professional decisions from day-to-day, however if I’m feeling mentally down, it is a great strategy for giving myself a ‘pick me up’.
“I could see the entire Navy (especially ships in tough times) benefiting majorly from Chris’s presentation,” Leading Seaman Knight said.
Fleet Support Unit has come a long way since it was reformed under the Rizzo Reform Program six years ago, and is continuing to improve as an organisation.
Since starting in the Executive Director role in January, Captain Laxton has already developed a priority focus.
“Practically, all technical sailors will be posted to the Fleet Support Unit at least once during their career,” he said.
“We owe it to them to provide work that is meaningful, rewarding and motivating.
“We’re working on a number of initiatives to do this, to improve skills and mastery, and to build on the substantial improvements to the Fleet Support Units in recent years.
“It’s gratifying that ideas to do this, directed at improving both productivity and the FSU experience, aren’t just coming from the leadership team, but from the whole FSU community.
“A key part of this approach is better engaging our workforce, inspiring them and encouraging them to think differently,” Captain Laxton said.