Crew Coach: Understanding emotions an advantage

Jun 21, 2019 by Rob Gannon

Crew Coach: by Capt. Rob Gannon

Recognizing our emotions and their effects can be an important competency in our working and private lives. Unfortunately, we can get so wrapped up in powerful thoughts and feelings  that we let them run us, and we forget how to steer through the storm. We also can lose touch with how our inability to control our emotions is affecting others. Sometimes we need to pull back the throttle and take some time to understand ourselves and what’s going on.

In working with a coaching client, I recently consulted my resource library and pulled down a trusted source – Daniel Goleman’s book “Working with Emotional Intelligence.” This yachting professional I was working with was having trouble with emotional awareness and I knew I could find some guidance from Mr. Goleman. Let’s look at three areas he mentions where people who are aware of their emotions and their effects are competent:

1. They know which emotions they are feeling and why. Well this sounds pretty key to the whole deal, doesn’t it? Yet, it gets buried and overlooked and denied. We can easily just focus on the other and the outer, and take no responsibility for what’s going on. Working closely with others on a yacht can really push us towards reaction from emotion.

Not taking the time to clear the head and thoughts that may not even be accurate, can be detrimental and can snowball. Make some time for yourself – not to stew or brood, but to settle things down and take an honest look at what’s happening inside and why. When we get really honest with ourselves, we can tell where emotions and reaction are coming from. But we need that time to  chill, step back and return to balance.

2. They realize the links between their feelings and what they think, do and say.  Once we get this, we can start to work on it and get better with situations that will arise to test us. We get more connected to the wise and calm inner voice. We learn to take a moment when the emotions are pushed. We recognize what is happening. It’s happened before, but now we will steer towards clearer skies and calmer seas. This sort of awareness feels good. Remember, we can always reach for a thought that feels better. Wouldn’t it be nice to be bothered and annoyed a lot less?

3. They recognize how their feelings affect their performance. This can get lost on us as well. We can get separated from the cause and effect of feelings and performance. I think we all know it’s not really good to work angry. It’s usually not going to be a great morning if we wake up still annoyed from yesterday’s stuff. Carrying grievances in our head will not lead to better performance; in fact, it can often lead to mistakes.

A harmless example could be waking up in a foul mood and focusing on some ugly thoughts, then spilling your coffee all over the counter because you’re preoccupied in your head. How are you feeling now? Maybe it’s time for a timeout.

I know; we’re busy and things are moving fast and emotional issues can get piled on top of one another, but we can’t let it bury us. We have to see the avalanche coming and retreat to safer ground. Find a quiet place. If you know some form of meditation, great, find that space, sit on the transom and look at the stars. Slow it all down.

I’ll leave you with this bit from “Working with Emotional Intelligence”: “The rhythm and pace of modern life give us too little time to assimilate, reflect and react. Our bodies are geared to a slower rhythm. We need time to be introspective, but we don’t get it – or take it. Emotions have their own agenda and timetable, but our rushed lives give them no space, no airtime, and so they go underground.

All of this mental pressure crowds out a quieter voice inside that offers an inner rudder of conviction we could use to navigate through life. People who are unable to know their feelings are at a tremendous disadvantage. In a sense, they are emotional illiterates, oblivious to a realm of reality that is crucial for success in life as a whole, let alone work.”

Amen. Use all the tools at hand, folks.

Enjoy the voyage.

Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach ( Comments are welcome below.