Attitude can be everything, positive or negative

Jul 8, 2014 by Rob Gannon

Last month, I wrote about thoughts and changing what we think about. I mentioned the “train of thoughts” and where it can lead.

Another place thoughts bring you is to attitude. This thing called attitude is always near the top of any list of attributes potential employers look for, especially on a yacht where you may live and work in close quarters. Have you checked in with your attitude lately?

I recently had the opportunity to observe the attitude of a fellow captain and watched in amazement at the power of his attitude to take him in the wrong direction. I’ll leave out the when and where details and just call him Jim. Jim’s attitude is causing him problems.

When I first met Jim, things seemed OK on the surface. He had been running a boat for a couple of years, had a cute girlfriend and seemed to be doing what he loved, but Jim is an angry young man. The more I spoke with him, the clearer the picture became. He would go on rants about the owners he worked for and how he knew better than they did (and everyone else, for that matter).

It seemed that he liked to hear himself talk, and he wasn’t much for listening. It seemed just about everyone was an idiot or incompetent, except for him.

My first thought, as a life coach, was that Jim could sure use some coaching, but the more I heard from him I realized he needed a different kind of counseling or therapy. Some of his issues were pretty deep. A person can’t move forward with coaching if unresolved issues from the past are steering their ship.

His rants were really angry and filled with contempt. During one rant, I stopped him. (The coach in me couldn’t stand it anymore.) I said, “Jim, you’re 32. If you continue with this anger and attitude, what are you going to be like at 52?”

He got my point for a moment, then went back to rationalizing why he’s so angry: because of all the idiots. This world, this life, wasn’t going the way he wanted it to and he clearly did not have the skills to deal with it. I have written and spoken about emotional intelligence over the past few months and Jim was really operating at the wrong end of that ladder. He was going in the wrong direction and it was about to get worse.

Jim got fired, not because of incompetence or his skills as a captain, but because of his attitude. I know the owners and that is exactly what they told me. They couldn’t deal with his attitude anymore. They hired a new captain who they felt was going to be much easier to deal with.

Of course, Jim was outraged. He has said he hated working for them, but when they let him go it was another thing to be angry about. His professional life was not going well and his personal life was about to follow.

Jim had been living with his girlfriend (I’ll call her Cindy) for about a year. Now unemployed and with no savings, he didn’t have money to help with the household expenses. Things were beginning to unravel at home. I ran into Cindy a couple of times and she was at her wits end with Jim. He wasn’t looking for work, his anger was directed at her, and the situation reached a head quickly. She told him to move out.

I tell you this tale of woe to show how a poor negative attitude can bring one’s life to a dark and sad place. It’s sad what has already happened to Jim but even sadder still is that he doesn’t get it. He is where he is because of his negative attitude.

“Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character,” Albert Einstein once said. Jim’s bad attitude now affected his character, which will affect his reputation moving forward. The domino effect will gain momentum until Jim wakes up, takes responsibility and understands it was all about attitude.

So, how’s your attitude doing?


Rob Gannon is a 25-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach. He offers free sample coaching sessions and can be reached at Comments are welcome at