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U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Dennis Meyers, first sergeant for the 169th Logistics Readiness Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Mar. 5, 2020.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Dennis Meyers, first sergeant for the 169th Logistics Readiness Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Mar. 5, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, 169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

Living my belief in transparent leadership, I’d like to share a resource that helped me recently. Over the last few months, I made several financial decisions based solely on my emotions. I paid several thousands of dollars out of pocket to sell my truck to a local dealership and I sold my other truck instead of keeping it for my daughter as planned. A close friend saw me making these bad, emotionally driven decisions and immediately reached out to help me. He asked if I knew anything about “Emotional Intelligence” and I said “no.” He then gave me a book entitled Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman. I’d like to share five points that helped me understand why I was making poor decisions from the section titled, “Can Emotions Be Intelligent?”

   1.   “Knowing one’s emotions is self-awareness. Identifying a feeling as it happens is the key to emotional intelligence. People with greater certainty about their feelings are better pilots of their lives, having a surer sense of how they really feel about personal decisions from whom to marry, to what job to take.” I wasn’t identifying how emotions like loss, anger, regret, hurt and betrayal were leading me to make poor financial decisions.

   2.   “Managing and handling feelings so they are appropriate is an ability that builds on self-awareness. People who are poor in this ability are constantly battling feelings of distress, while those who excel in it can bounce back far more quickly from life’s setbacks and upsets.” Once I identified that I made these financial decisions while emotionally charged, I stepped back and decided that I wouldn’t make any more rash financial decisions and came up with a plan to stabilize my finances.

   3.    “Motivating and gathering emotions in the service of a goal is essential for paying attention, for self-motivation, self-mastery and creativity. People who have this skill tend to be more highly productive and effective in whatever they undertake.” I motivated myself through prayer and counseling to use my emotions in a positive way to set financial goals and achieve them.

   4.    “Recognizing emotions in me and others is empathy. It is another ability that builds on emotional self-awareness. People who are empathetic are more attuned to the subtle social signals that indicate what others need or want.” This experience enables me to empathize with others who have made or are about to make poor emotional decisions and help them make better ones in the future.

   5.    “Handling relationships is the art or skill of managing emotions in others. People who excel in these skills do well at anything that relies on interacting smoothly with others; they are social stars.” I wouldn’t even begin to call myself a social star, but I am a better first sergeant now for having learned something from my mistakes. I’ve learned to recognize the emotional struggles others are facing and expresses my buy-in to the relationship I have with those individuals and help them find solutions for their problems.

I’m convinced that we can use our emotions intelligently and I will continue to apply these concepts to help me with everyday life. Take some time to reflect on your emotions and how they’ve impacted your decisions. If any of the above concepts resonated with you, plug them into your daily life and see how you can make more emotionally intelligent decisions in the future.