The Three Major Challenges To Self-Management

“When I say manage emotions, I only mean the really distressing, incapacitating emotions. Feeling emotions is what makes life rich. You need your passions.”

Daniel Goleman

Back in the 1950’s, a group of researchers studied 80 science Ph.D. students at the University of California-Berkeley … giving them a battery of personality tests, IQ tests, and interviews … hoping to predict their future professional success. Forty years later, those same individuals were assessed once again. Their resumes were studied, their accomplishments were examined by experts in their fields, and their placements in such sources as “American Men and Women of Science” were included in the final analysis.

The conclusion? Even though these were “hard-core science” people instead of “soft-skill oriented” professionals, their social and emotional abilities were four times more important than their IQ’s in establishing their professional success and prestige. FOUR times more!

According to R. Sternberg in “Successful Intelligence,” the research shows that your IQ contributes a mere 20% to your overall success in life. The rest depends on your Emotional Intelligence (EI). It’s something you cannot afford to ignore. Or put another way, your IQ might get you hired, but it is your EI that will almost certainly get you promoted.

So what is this magical, powerful Emotional Intelligence all about? As I mentioned in last week’s article, it is comprised of four skill sets: 1) Self-Awareness, 2) Self-Management, 3) Social Awareness, and 4) Relationship Management. Last week I explained Self-Awareness. Let’s take a look at the second skill set of Self-Management.

Indeed, those first two elements of Self-Awareness and Self-Management are the very things I teach in my program on “The Payoff Principle: How You Can Motivate Yourself To Win Every Time In Any Situation.” You can read about it by clicking here, or listen to Bill Griffith, the Facilities Manager at Dallas County Hospital. He said, “This program got me on the right path in life.” Or listen to Phyllis Drake, the Cardiopulmonary Supervisor at Green County Medical Center, who says, “Extremely motivational. Excellent take home tips that I used immediately. I would highly recommend Dr. Zimmerman’s program for your business.”

To dig a little deeper and help you develop the Self-Management part of your Emotional Intelligence…

1. What is Self-Management?

It’s going beyond knowing yourself to knowing how to conduct yourself. That’s why 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.”

It goes beyond spontaneous reacting to thoughtful responding. A person who is emotionally stupid says and does such things as “I’ll do whatever I want whenever I feel like it.” By contrast, a person with high emotional intelligence knows:

  • 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.

Self-management goes beyond a victim mentality to that of an owner’s mentality. It’s like the small girl who was showing her friends the bathroom scale. She says, “I don’t know what it is, but when you stand on it, it makes you mad.” Obviously she was describing the mentality and the behavior of adults she had seen who knew little or nothing about emotional intelligence and self-management.

Dr. Daniel Goleman associates self-management with such characteristics as self-control, transparency, adaptability, achievement, initiative, and optimism. Absolutely. My book on “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success” describes those points in detail, but more importantly it tells you exactly how to develop those characteristics. You can get a copy by clicking here.

Of course, it’s one thing to know what the Self-Management aspect of Emotional Intelligence is all about. More importantly,

2. How do you develop Self-Management?

You get some training. And you learn to ask yourself some questions … so you think before you talk and do. Ask yourself such questions as:

  • How do you define success and successful behavior?
  • What are you willing to do to accomplish success and your desired results?
  • How will your life be different if you think before you act and react? 
  • Are you willing to ask for help when you need it?
  • Are you willing to listen to others’ opinions?
  • How do you keep yourself from succeeding or getting ahead?
  • What beliefs do you need to change for you to achieve your goals?
  • How well is negative thinking serving you?
  • What will it take to move forward?
  • Do you believe your current perspective is helping or hindering you?
  • What are you doing to manage the most uncomfortable part of your life at this time?
  • What is the best thing that could happen to you if you changed your behavior?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen to you if you changed your behavior?
  • How do you sabotage yourself?

Take a lesson from professional stunt woman Kitty O’Neil. She could have easily been angry or discouraged considering all that happened to her. But because of her own Emotional Intelligence and amazing Self-Management, she accomplished a great deal.

O’Neil’s bravery was wide-ranging: She was born deaf; became a champion three-meter and platform diver whose Olympic aspirations were dashed by a bout of spinal meningitis that doctors said would permanently paralyze her, and survived two grueling sets of cancer treatment, all before her 28th birthday. In 1976, she became a Hollywood stunt woman and was featured in dozens of TV shows and movies and held the highest stunt fall by a woman at 105 feet.

When she took her shot at the land-speed record for female drivers at the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon, the record hovered around 400 mph. Observers reported that O’Neil’s car actually reached a top speed of more than 618 miles per hour in various practice runs.

When the day for the “real” race came, “Sports Illustrated” said, “There is no doubt that by dialing in more power, Kitty would have gone still faster — and maybe even past the sonic barrier.” However, dialing in more power was not an option for O’Neil. Under her contract, she was only permitted to drive her car to a new women’s record. The movie director Hal Needham had paid $25,000 for the chance to steer the car to a new overall world record, and he was determined not to lose that chance to a woman. So, after O’Neil set her record, Needham rather unceremoniously demanded that she be pulled from the drivers’ seat. His spokesman even told reporters that it would be “degrading” for a woman to hold the “man’s” record.

While the lawyers squabbled, it began to snow, and the race track was closed for the season. Needham never even got behind the wheel. And O’Neil retired in 1982.

If Kitty O’Neil had not been an emotionally intelligent self-managing person, she might have gotten very angry about all of that. She might have exploded and gave them all a piece of her mind. Instead, she knew how to handle herself with poise and professionalism and went on to gain and hold 22 speed records on land and water.

If you haven’t mastered the skills of Self-Management, you can. That’s the good news. So what are you waiting for?

Action:  List your three major challenges in Self-Management.  How do you “lose” it?  And list three things you could do to increase your Emotional Intelligence so you are more effective at Self-Management.