Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - what is it, why is it relevant and how is it developed? These are the questions that I get asked most often in my consulting practice. My intention behind publishing Living an EQ Life© is to increase awareness about Emotional Intelligence in a practical, meaningful way by sharing personal reflections and real life examples. I encourage you to participate with me along the way by sharing your own Living an EQ Life©examples.
During my recent visit, we looked through family photos while she shared stories that, admittedly, I have heard many times. But this time, something was different. This time, her stories touched my soul at a deeper level and I started to connect-the-dots to my legacy in a way that I never had before. In the blink of an eye, the why behind who I am and why I do what I do became clear.
The feelings were so strong that I had to find a way for me to express them quickly. When I sat down to write, my hand took a different turn and started to draw the sunflower you see here. I have always been attracted to sunflowers because they are happy, strong and hopeful – always turning to the sun for positive nourishment and energy. Sunflowers replenish others with nectar and plant seeds for new growth – a perfect metaphor for the work I do.
A closer look at the drawing reveals…
- The roots: my core values (Relationships, Integrity and Health).
- The stem: my guiding principles (Be present, be respectful and be open).
- The leaves: my training and education.
- The sunflower center: my core strengths.
- The sunflower petals: my memorable experiences.
Much of my personal energy this year has focused on developing a greater awareness and understanding of my intrinsic motivation, passions and purpose. As I settle into my fifth decade, introspection and reflection has fueled my desire to connect-the-dots to Living an EQ Life©.
And you…in what ways are you connecting-the-dots to your legacy and Living an EQ Life©?
Last Friday, I made a personal leap into the 21st century and purchased my very first Smartphone (the cell phones without a rotary dial and the two cups attached by a string). Honestly, I held out as long as I could. After months of agonizing research and weighing all the options – I talked to John at the Verizon store. John has worked with me in the past – so he knew what he was getting into.
The EQ Life/Smartphone test started on the drive home when I realized that I had no idea how to perform even the most basic functions beyond turning on the phone. Two hours into playing with the new phone, I felt that ‘head ready to explode’ feeling. You may be familiar with this feeling – it is when every ounce of intellectual capacity leaves your head. This was my trigger to set the phone aside and do something that tapped my skills and demonstrated visible results. I made dinner and ate it!
When I started working with my new phone the next morning, it did not take long for that incompetent, what was I thinking feeling to resurface. I could not believe it – I had just done a presentation on emotional intelligence and talked about emotional hijacks (Daniel Goleman’s description of what happens when the emotional brain hijacks the thinking brain.) Now, I was living what I taught 2 days earlier. Technology seems to hit that emotional hijack hot button for me and I never seem to remember how to manage this very well.
The good news (for me anyway) is that all six people I worked with to make my Smartphone smart and help me build enough confidence/competence to use it, demonstrated the right balance of IQ (cognitive intelligence) and EQ (emotional intelligence). All of them were extremely skilled and knowledgeable (IQ) about the technology. More important to me, however, was their ability to read and manage my emotions (EQ) in a way that was respectful and calming. Each one did a remarkable job of sensing my frustration and impatience. They actively listened and allowed me the time I needed to process the information. I have determined that for me, learning technology is a lot like learning French – it is not intuitive, does not come naturally and the very thought of reading about it drains my creative energy.
People like John, Diane, Tammy, Shannon, Derrick and Chad visibly demonstrated the core principles of Living an EQ life® - being present, being respectful and being open. For that, I am grateful. They will never know how their strong emotional intelligence helped redirect my emotional hijack – and it did.
I knew that Smartphone were smart, but never knew that they were smart enough to actually play a role in Living an EQ life®.
I’ve heard him speak a couple of times – most recently in Minneapolis at the Summit of the Sages Conference sponsored by the Katharine J. Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership (University of Minnesota - School of Nursing).
Just before his keynote address at this conference, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting him in person. He is really a great guy – down to earth and grounded. Pink is everything I would expect from someone who endorses right brain thinking while being a left-brain thinker.
As I listened to his keynote address, I could not help but think about my friend Cynthia England. Cynthia was in Minneapolis earlier this summer visiting a mutual friend of ours (we were all roommates at Millikin University). It was great to see her after 3+ decades since we graduated. (Thankfully, you’d never guess this by looking at us!)
While she was here, she introduced me to her new business venture…Eco Billboard Bags. She and her business partner rescue billboard vinyl before it ends up in landfills and recycle it to create custom tote bags. Each bag is one-of-a-kind, waterproof, fully lined, extremely durable and fun for everyday use. If this is not cool enough – they donate a portion of the proceeds for their Go Red for Women Bags to the American Heart Association.
In an intentional attempt to ‘be green’ by re-purposing materials that would otherwise have been discarded, Eco Billboard Bags has unintentionally applied the high-concept, high-touch abilities that Daniel Pink says will continue to guide our lives and shape our world; Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning. “Living successfully in the conceptual age, calls for BIG, BOLD and AUDASCIOUS thinking to…solve our problems in elegant ways, put facts and figures into an emotional context, to connect the dots in a bigger picture and to link purpose and profit.”
No surprise, when I look at these abilities through the lens of emotional intelligence (EQ), I see instant reinforcement of fundamental EQ competencies such as self-awareness, independence, empathy, social responsibility, happiness and optimism – all of which contribute to Living an EQ Life©
What about you…in what situations have you observed or are you applying Pink + Green to Live an EQ Life©?
It has been such a cold, wet and dreary October in Minneapolis, I was afraid that fall would completely pass us by this year. Then yesterday, the bright blue sky, crisp cool breeze and the sight and sound of neighbor kids playing outside in the leaves reminded me why fall is so important to me...It is about transitions.
After moving to the Twin Cities in 1981, I remember spending the summer setting up my new life in South Minneapolis – you know the drill; finding a place to live, a place to work, a place to buy groceries, get gas, meeting new people blah, blah, blah… All of this activity was incredibly exciting and energizing for me. By early October, change was in the air and I can vividly recall thinking that ‘I wasn’t in Kansas (actually Illinois) anymore.’
It was one of those all too frequent NON-STOP days yesterday. I know you know exactly what I mean. I call them ‘ing’ days… emailing, reading, coaching, grading, talking, thinking, listening – just jam-packed the entire day with constant doing.
After exercising, I was too tired for cooking anything for dinner, so decided to treat myself to one of my favorite Chinese restaurants. After ordering take out (of course) I remember thinking to myself…what can I do in the next 10-12 minutes that I will be checking off my ‘to do’ list when I get home.
And then I remembered a Jon Kabat-Zinn (the mindfulness meditation guy from the U of Massachusetts Medical Center) podcast that I have listened to several times recently called Opening to our Lives. In this podcast he talks about how the phrase human beings is really a cliché and that we should really be called human doings. “We actually haven’t had that much experience in inhabiting our own being. It’s kind of like foreign territory. And as soon as we do, we want to fill it up with something.”