As an FBI agent, I was trained to use emotional intelligence to size up a person with just a glance. But here is a secret—you can too, because humans have an amazing capacity to process complex information.
Our brain has an amazing ability to bring order out of chaos and place people, words, and behavior into patterns that make sense to sense to us. Below is a paragraph that raced across the Internet a few years back:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
Brains have an attention filter that helps us find patterns in information so we know what to pay attention to and what we can safely ignore. In the caveman days, it helped us be alert to predators; in the information age, however, the amount of data that assaults our brain on a daily basis is staggering.
Studies suggest that we now receive five times as much information as we did in 1986. Every day the average person produces six newspapers worth of information compared with just two and a half pages 24 years ago—a 200% increase.
All of this information is competing for resources in your brain, whether it’s important data like medical information and financial updates, trivia updates on sports and hobbies, or emotions like anger and love.
As a leader, do not forget that your emotions originate in your brain alongside your intellect and thoughts. Since the processing ability of your conscious mind is limited, your brain’s attention filter plays a crucial role in seeking out emotional patterns that are important to you. This explains why it’s important for you to sharpen your emotional intelligence skills.
Here are 4 ways you can raise your emotional intelligence:
1. BEWARE OF ALWAYS LOOKING FOR THE BIG PICTURE IN LIFE
Our brain has the ability to focus on the “big picture” stuff in life which is great most of the time, but it can leave you missing important details. Emotional intelligence is being self-aware enough to excavate the significance of the small, but vitally important details of your own life.
When you’re asked about who you are, you probably provide details such date of birth, place of birth, address, employment, and social security number. Truth is, that is nothing more than a legal description.
To answer from a place of self-awareness indicates you’ve done a lot more work—digging down and excavating the significance of your own stories and experiences to uncover the hidden jewels of your personality, and not being satisfied with statistics put down on a piece of paper.
2. MOVE ON FROM THOSE TIRESOME KNEE-JERK RESPONSES
Emotional intelligence provides us with the self-awareness to choose which responses we want to be stronger and more dominant.
As you become aware of your decisions, choices, and habits, you can identify the ones that produce the best results. Each time you act out of anger, you strengthen your mind’s anger response; the only way to stop this negative pattern of behavior is to recognize it as an emotion that does not produce the best results for you.
Similarly, if you act out of kindness you will strengthen your mind’s kindness response.
As you become more aware of which of your responses are triggering the better choices for you, you empower yourself. If you are not aware, negative responses will tend to perpetuate themselves and you’ll most likely find yourself repeating them—even though they are not productive.
3. LET GO OF THE CRAP THAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK
Let go of addictions, negative emotions, and fear-based behaviors.
As you get to know yourself, you will learn how to replace them with actions that are based on principles, values, and strengths. This is the essence of an empowered leader with mental strength.
4. LET EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE EMPOWER YOU
Emotional intelligence will help you:
- Live for a higher purpose – empowerment is wise and discerning.
- Nurture yourself and others – empowerment is compassion.
- Develop your skills and set an example for others – empowerment places value on people.
- Let go of the past and are renewed by your experiences – empowerment is forgiving and uses everything in life for growth and renewal.
- Observe yourself and others without judgment or expectations – empowerment is engaged with reality and the richness of the world
- Believe in yourself and trust in the goodness of life – empowerment is courage to deal with life under all circumstances.
- Celebrate your existence and share your happiness – empowerment is happy to add the richness of experience with everyone.
Emotional intelligence empowers leaders because it allows them to dig deep within themselves and lead from a place of mental strength and strong heart.
© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.
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