Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Dr Joe MacInnis- Diving, A Way to Get to Work

     I'm a massive fan of the Titanic. From the moment when I first heard of the legendary shipwreck, I knew I wanted to go. Wanted to explore the depths of the ocean to see the regal ballroom doors. If I couldn't do that, at least be on the water in a boat, right on top of where the ship is now buried by gallons of water. That would be a fair compromise. Having the chance to interview the first Canadian to work on the Titanic wreck was a step in the right direction in my eyes. Not only that, this man was the one to discover parts of the northernmost shipwreck in the world, The Breadalbane of 1853, later discovering the rest with help of coast guard vessels. He has led and organized publicly funded dives to the well-known SS Edmund Fitzgerald which sank in Lake Superior, finally, he is well known for being the first scientist in the world to scuba dive under the North Pole. In my eyes, Dr. Joe MacInnis is the one of the most interesting Canadians I've ever spoken to. With a career as rich as his though, I can only provide a short walk through of some parts today.
     After Dr. MacInnis walked me through some interview pointers that he had picked up over his own years of experience and work, I believed I was ready to ask him some questions. I started with asking about a story I had read in regards to what seemed to be his first professional work after earning his Doctor of Medicine. Once Dr. MacInnis had finished his junior internship, he had his mind set on working with one man, the famed entrepreneur and inventor Edwin Link. With no idea how to reach him, he was finally able to make a person-to-person call. Link agreed to meet for only 15 minutes the next day. The meeting concluded with Dr. Joe MacInnis being offered the role of full-time doctor for Link's new Man-In-Sea project. It seemed like his goal was accomplished. As I said though, that was the story I read (quite frankly, on Wikipedia). So I wanted to know more about it. I had assumed that he received the role based on academic superiority compared to others, and I was surprised when he told me that he “didn't think he was going to get it, because [he] had bad grades and wasn't a good student.” I must say, the answer confused me. So Dr. MacInnis explained that he's what he now knows is “emotionally intelligent”, his enthusiasm and belief in the work allowed him the chance to enter this role, which changed his life.

The famed Edwin Link, who gave Dr. Joe his first chance at a job.

     Later I would have it explained to me that diving isn't his job, and that's not how he sees it. Diving is but a way for him to get to his work is all, whether with Edwin Link, or a man he had the chance to become close to starting in 1969. The man was the newly elected Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau. As Dr. MacInnis told me, “he was in a high stress job, and diving was a way to take some stress away. This gave him the chance to be the explorer he always was.” They had the chance to form a mutual mentorship. Knowledge shared with each other from complex political topics to the skills of diving. Together they did over fifty personal dives, but as Dr. MacInnis reiterated, it was a relationship based on exchange: on respect, information, trust and insight. The sharing of important things such as these, show real friendship. He had the chance to form relationships through exchange among many other well known names such as Farley Mowat, who I myself have had the chance to speak with a few times, and Edward Schreyer who was then the Governor General of Canada.

The wreck of the great Titanic, Dr. Joe was the first Canadian to see this sight.

     After hearing this, our conversation shifted to his current fascination. One that quite personally sounded incredible in my eyes as well. This was in regards to some work he's been doing which is the basis of his newest book titled Deep Leadership: Essential Insights from High Risk Environments. Studying the characteristics and speaking to the workers building the International Space Station, working two miles under the Ocean or more recently, travelling to Afghanistan to speak with solders, he had the chance to learn about their special form of courage, showing him how they can preform in work while their life is on the line.
But, alas, eagerness brought me back in the past of the life Dr. Joe MacInnis, I wanted to know more of his Titanic experience. I had asked if, like myself, this was possibly a childhood passion of his- to find the wreck. I was pretty shocked when he explained how his involvement was quite frankly, rather coincidental. He had a friend who was working on finding the wreak, and asked if Dr Joe would be interested in coming with them. Well, he had read about the Titanic in a book or two while younger and had heard a song about it, so he figured why not. That's how the first Canadian to work on the Titanic wreak made it there, a coincidence, and I'm actually glad it worked out that way. In my eyes, it's a more interesting tale, not to mention just an all around more Canadian one... "oh ya, once by a fluke I ran into the Titanic", that was a me quote not him by the way.
     All in all, from what I learned when speaking to Dr Joe MacInnis, an adventure could be a simple as a way of getting to work, an interest fuelled with an option, or a question asked to you. This could lead to discovering and experiencing some of the world's most interesting sites, landmarks and historical areas. It can lead you to become, in my eyes, one of Ontario.. or Canada's, most interesting people, just like I feel Dr. Joe MacInnis is. I'm glad I heard of him, and glad we had the chance to chat.

Dr Joe MacInnis

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