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The importance of Emotional Intelligence in the current dynamic


Take me back to when I started my officiating journey 25 years ago and I was a totally different person. I began my refereeing career worried mostly about throwing myself into a group I had no idea about rather than getting decisions right or my technical competence. New people, new relationships, new ways of being, were a confronting and somewhat fearful scenario.

It was a time where knowing more about my myself and particularly how I responded emotionally would have been absolutely handy in my progression through life, let alone up the ranks of officiating.

Fast forward 10 years and something similar could be said for when I progressed into high performance squads and the potential of achieving the long worked goal of becoming a full time NRL referee. Emotional intelligence should have been high on the radar both from a coaching perspective and my own. However, it wasn't mentioned nor something taught to coaches or officials. I have vivid recollections about games where minutes in I was highly sensitive to captains and players, with an 80 minute performance placing at risk all the work I had done.


This was purely because I had not considered the impact of what I was bringing to the game both from my personal relationships, those I had with players and the progression of my career. Knowing what I know now, it should have been as important that my coaching staff were educated in the impact Emotional Intelligence could play in making the people in their charge even better.


Having delivered concepts around EI to a group of talented match officials in December last year, it was positive to see that the feedback both anecdotally and in person was that they had embraced some of the concepts we had discussed. What is even more poignant today, and probably lost on us all back then, was that utilising much of the EI content we discussed will be a valuable part of coming days, weeks and months as we seek to survive, pivot and evolve.

We are all balancing a different dynamic, which is engaging us to change the way we think about all aspects of what we do!

For most, it is a massive upheaval, which will impact on our connections, family, working environment, hobbies and future. Having some clarity about the impact on our emotional responses and their impacts will allow us to take control of how we respond and continue to push in the direction of growth in this time of uncertainty.


This is not a panacea for having all the answers nor fix our immediate challenges. However, using some of the strategies and looking from a different perspective will give some control back into maintaining a positive environment. It will build hope in what lies ahead, even if it means embracing an evolution of who you are.


Some of those key points we spoke about that could help you progress through this pandemic:


Self Awareness of your emotions - beginning to know those emotions that impact on you and your relationships as well as some of the triggers (thoughts, situations, beliefs) that create unwanted responses.


Building your skills at self assessing, or having people around you who know! - The best at EI know their triggers well and continue to refine what they are looking for. They also have good networks of family, friends and colleagues who are willing to be real about when and what action is needed.


Finding and refining skills of emotional control - once you know the triggers, having strategies to minimise those situations and responses that impact on how you interact with others.


Build strong relationships - By communicating and letting people know these challenges and strategies will help in having a strong network who can keep you positive and growing.


These can manifest in many ways for you and the importance of talking about them or seeking clarity is a great way of starting to lean into your strengths and understand yourself in way you may not have considered.


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