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Crew Coach: Authenticity key to contentment

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Crew Coach: by Capt. Rob Gannon

One of the most elusive emotional states for us humans in this modern world is attaining the feeling of lasting contentment. It sure sounds nice, but it takes some hard work to get there and it’s the kind of work many of us just don’t want to do. 

For some, just the thought of looking inward brings discomfort and resistance. But we need to figure out how we are operating, and a major step on the road to contentment is honestly assessing our authenticity.

At some point, it’s a really good idea to stop the roller coaster ride we can find ourselves on in this life and check in with how authentically we’re living. Some may say: “I don’t have time to think about this stuff, I’m busy.” Yes, most of us are busy, but there are also a whole lot of folks discontented in their busyness. 

I make this observation from years of studying personal growth and human behavior, along with working with people as a personal coach for the past 10 years.

I must admit, I didn’t think about this “stuff” for much of my young adulthood either, but I’m really glad I made the shift and got interested in my inner state. That eventually led to the opportunity to work with others on their journeys, and for that I’m so grateful.

 So, how do we know if we’re authentic? Well, a very simple answer is we just know. We can try to fool ourselves. We can ignore, gloss over, excuse all kinds of behavior and decisions – but deep down, we know.

We not only know about ourselves, but we can recognize authenticity in others as well. We can see a person who is comfortable in their own skin and confident with decisions made from solid core values. We can also see when that’s missing.

In the yachting industry, we all have seen this. There are captains and crew members who are the real deal. They are honest and comfortable with themselves. They have no need to try to build themselves up by putting others down. They know how to listen. They never think they know it all. They are easy to be around and to deal with.

Why? Because they are not hiding anything. They know they’re not a fraud or a phony. They also are probably not masking over an inner pain that keeps them in a state of conflict. Operating from this place not only breeds confidence and competence, it also puts that person on the road to contentment.

We also have to understand that being content does not mean we become lazy or lack any drive or purpose. There can still be goals and desires, but we can be content with the process and the unfolding of things.

Again, a person feeling some contentment, doesn’t think they know it all or have it all figured out, and they are quite comfortable with that. There is an acceptance of their imperfection and humanity. Mistakes will be made and lessons will be learned. Perfectionist they are not. Have you ever noticed perfectionists are usually not very happy people? How could they be? 

Speaking of happy, there is a big difference between moments of happiness, usually from external forces, and contentment. A lasting contentment is an inside job. It’s inside-out living, not outside-in. It’s great to enjoy all the happy moments that come our way, but if there seems to be less of them at some point, we can still sail on feeling just fine if our wind is an inner contentment.

I would never suggest the road to lasting contentment is an easy one. There is some hard inner work and honest assessment that we have to go through. But that’s life right? We all have to go through stuff and hopefully come out the other side feeling okay. 

The road will be a lot harder if we don’t live authentically. That’s the roadblock to contentment. The sooner we can get that sorted out, the better we will feel and function. Sometimes we have to get real with ourselves. Not with the harsh voice of an inner critic, but with raw honesty and forgiveness.

Enjoy the voyage.

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

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