I’m often amazed at how many people want to be the “boss.” But they’re not even able to manage or lead themselves, let alone lead a team or an entire company. Without Emotional Intelligence, their chances of being a good boss are pretty slim.
By contrast, people who take the time to master Emotional Intelligence are almost always in the top 4% of those who have the strongest mental health, working relationships, and successful careers. So it only makes sense to make sure you get more and more Emotionally Intelligent … whether or not you’re a boss, leader, individual contributor, a spouse, friend, or anything else.
That’s what Pam Meehan-Smith, a Customer Service Manager for the US Postal Service, learned at my program on Emotionally Intelligent Self-Leadership. She said,
“I came to the session believing it would be another ‘touchy-feely, feel-good’ exercise. But I got so thoroughly caught up in Dr. Zimmerman’s enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject that I couldn’t help but learn. More importantly, I took his skills and strategies back to the workplace to make it a MUCH better workplace.”
Here are two ways you can strengthen your Emotional Intelligence, starting right now.
►1. GET CLEAR about what you really really want..
Some people never quite figure out what they REALLY want. And as novelist and author of more than 20 books, Chuck Palahniuk points out, “If you don’t know what you want, you end up with a lot you don’t.”
Florence Barker got a clear sense of what she wanted at my Emotionally Intelligent Self-Leadership master class.
She walked into my seminar at the age of 82, weighing about 90 pounds, and using a cane. When I asked what she was doing in my program, she said she wanted to put more adventure in her life. I didn’t know what that meant to Florence.
Nonetheless, I presented the program, helping the participants get more clarity and focus in their lives. Each person created a list of all the things they really really wanted and what they were going to do about it after the seminar. When I asked each person to share the number one item on their lists, Florence enthusiastically said hers was “to learn to drive an 18-wheeler, a semi-truck, and drive across the country.”
I thought she was a bit senile and didn’t give her much more thought. About a year after my program, I received a newspaper clipping and a letter from Florence. Here she was driving an 18-wheeler. She had gotten certified in driving such a truck at a local vocational school, found an over-the-road truck driver, and asked if she could join him, and there they went.
For ten years in my various speaking programs across the country, I shared the story of Florence. Then two years ago I was back in the city where I first met her, giving a keynote address to a thousand people. I shared her story once again, saying I didn’t know if she was alive or not, but she had inspired me for years. Someone in the audience said, “Yes, Florence is still in town, 92, and doing great!”
After the program, someone told Florence I was talking about her in my programs. She wrote me a great letter afterwards, saying, “At age 92, I’ve come to the conclusion that those folks who are not trying new things are either physically incapable or just plain stupid.”
You can’t help but respect people like that … with the Emotional Intelligence to know what they want and get what they want.
How much of a “Florence” are you?
Do you know what you really, Really, REALLY want?
If you don’t know the answer, the only other alternative you have in life, work, and relationships is to settle for less. And let me tell you, that is never the way to more peace, contentment, satisfaction, joy, happiness, health, and success.
Start the Emotional Intelligence process of Self-Awareness. Or continue the process of learning all you can about yourself.
And once you’re in that process, you’ve got to…
►2. MANAGE YOURSELF well enough to get the results you really really want.
So yes, the whole process of becoming more Emotionally Intelligent starts with Self-Awareness. But it’s not enough to know yourself. After all, you may discover some things about yourself that are not so good. You may discover that you’re somewhat of a procrastinator or that you tend to hang around the wrong people. You may learn some things that are hurting you instead of helping you.
That’s why the second dimension of Emotional Intelligence is Self-Management. It goes beyond knowing yourself to knowing how to conduct yourself.
Emotionally Intelligent Self-Management, for example, goes beyond reacting to responding. It goes beyond knowing you’re ticked off to knowing how to handle your anger. As one person said, “Anyone can be angry; that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way … that is not easy.”
An Emotionally Ignorant person might say something like, “I’ll do whatever I want whenever I feel like it.” So they go on to make stupid financial decisions, attract the wrong kinds of friends, burn their bridges, get stuck in jobs they hate, eat bad foods, or consume drugs, nicotine, and alcohol that may eventually kill them. They’re reactors, controlled by feelings that do not serve them well.
By contrast, an Emotionally Intelligent person is a responder. They know:
There is a time to wait and a time to move,
There is a time to be together and a time to be alone,
There is a time to work and a time to play,
There is a time to confront and a time to withdraw,
There is a time to speak and a time to be silent, and
There is a time to be patient and a time to decide.
How well are you managing yourself? Are you managing yourself in such a way that you’re getting what you really really want?
Fran Tarkenton, the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, had to learn that lesson. It came during a time that Tarkenton was doing so badly with the Vikings that he skipped practices and decided to quit. When coach Bud Grant finally got to him, he told Coach Grant that he hated being booed by the hometown fans, was weary of the media criticism, didn’t feel he was helping the team, and wanted to quit.
Grant responded with great wisdom. He said, “Fran, everybody WANTS to quit. It’s okay to WANT to quit,” Grant told him. “It’s just not okay to quit.”
Tarkenton soon learned that “wanting to quit” was how he felt. It’s great to be self-aware. But he had to learn that following those feelings was not going to bring him the long-term results he really really wanted. That’s Emotionally Intelligent Self-Leadership.