Grid of emotions – plotting a route to honest conversation

We should all be aware by now of how incredibly powerful clear, simple systems can be. This is never more true that when you’re preparing to spend more than 70 days alone on the Arctic Ocean’s floating pack ice, in pursuit of becoming the youngest person in history to ski solo to the North Pole. Before you ask, no, this story is not my own, but it’s a bloody good one.

Aged 26, Ben Saunders set off on an incredible mission, one which would impact him not only physically, but emotionally too. As part of this journey, Ben developed what he calls an ‘emotions grid’; a monitoring system devised by a psychologist to help him share his emotions more accurately and honestly while on his first major solo expedition. 27 listed emotions and a simple scoring system (1-4) helped determine what Ben needed mentally to help him get through each day.

Each evening, on the satellite phone to his expedition manager, Tony Haile, Ben would be asked ‘numbers?’ before any further chat was exchanged, at which point he went into code – ‘8 – 2’ ‘14 – 4’ ‘18 – 1’ ‘23 – 3’ ‘4 – 4’ and so on. With this data he would seek the guidance of a psychologist on how best to help Ben that following evening. Did he need a metaphorical arm around my shoulder, kick up the backside or word of encouragement? Would he benefit from a heartfelt message from a loved one, distraction through some amusing anecdote from the real world, or incentive through a new near-term goal?

Perhaps the part of Ben’s post which should resonate most with business leaders and founders is this:

“This is why it feels more important than ever for individuals and businesses to develop – and to continue to evolve – their own personal ‘emotions grid’. Behind the screen, without human interaction, the warning signs of struggle are all too easily masked. Several thousand miles from my team, on the uninhabited, semi-frozen desert of the Arctic Ocean, as a young man – hell-bent on proving a point – I would certainly have suffered in silence were it not for the ‘numbers.’

Here, in this strange kind of wilderness we all share today, it might be prudent to ask yourself: “How am I helping myself and my teammates to narrow the gap between suppression and expression?”

What an incredible way to become aware of exactly how you’re feeling in any given moment.

You can read the full story here on his blog. 

The emotions grid



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If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues.