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Integrating Emotional Intelligence Into the Fabric of Our Lives

CEO Hanuman Goleman in his Home Office
Hanuman Goleman is seen at his desk with podcasting equipment, desktop computer and TV in the background.
Hanuman Goleman, Founder and CEO of 爱博体育网站, sits in his home office.

Dear Community,

I am pleased to announce a new chapter at 爱博体育网站: a podcast with Daniel Goleman on emotional intelligence!

Over the last few years, we turned our attention to widening access to practical emotional intelligence development by launching the training and coaching certification programs now housed under the company “Goleman EI” — programs which offer top notch EI programming for businesses and individuals.

Doing that work, we learned a lot: we reaffirmed the importance of EI; we watched hundreds of people benefit from concentrated EI training and coaching; and we connected to a deeper mission, which is to take this work as far as we can, well beyond the realm of leadership development and business.

This is why we are launching a podcast — First Person Plural: Emotional Intelligence and Beyond. Each episode will explore conscious and unconscious ways that our beliefs and ideas create the systems we are a part of. And in turn, we will look at the impact of those systems are on our daily lives. This podcast will go beyond EI theory, diving deep into the waters of how EI is lived and applied across cultures, industries, and communities of interest.

Why now?

From a growing annual fire season to widening income inequalities — from racism to a divided political landscape — the conditions we find ourselves in did not come out of nowhere. When I look at the world these days, much of what I see is the result of acting without self-awareness or regard for others. We are living the results of decisions, actions, and inactions that we, collectively, have either taken or tacitly endorsed.

This leads me to believe that now, more than ever, emotional intelligence must be integrated into the fabric of our life. If there is going to be change, we must first widen our understanding of ourselves and one another.

What’s the podcast going to be like?

My team and I are putting together a three-part podcast. In each episode you will hear from experts, game-changers and community members who will offer their thoughts on topics crucial to reinforcing EI in society. The structure for this podcast reflects my belief that it is imperative for us to have a clear conversation about the systems we are a part of — the networks and circumstances we live in willingly and unwillingly.

Systems dictate our choices. We must understand them and our role within them to create a more sustainable and just world.

When I reflect on the rise of an authoritarian mindset today in the US and around the world, I remember what my ancestors faced during the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe.

I remember what marginalized communities have faced in the US all of their lives with the ongoing violations of their dignity and their rights.

Like so many others, I wonder “What can I do?” The scope of the situation is daunting.

Creating An Emotionally Intelligent Future

If emotional intelligence has taught me anything it is not to underestimate the power of shifting our mindset, even a little. From our mindset we begin to shift our behavior, allowing ourselves to take new actions in service of our deepest values — in service of our community!

Social change is a tall order for a podcast. But I do hope that First Person Plural can further the conversation, instill a sense of hope, and inspire action. I trust that, together, we can create a more emotionally intelligent future — one in which everyone is recognized and treated as valuable and given the resources to thrive.

I believe in humanity. I believe that we all want to thrive. When we pay attention, we can learn. We can find new ways to uplift us all.

As I write this I can hear my two children — home every day now — laughing in the background. Five and three, they bring tears to my eyes. I cannot do this podcast without thinking about the state of the world I want to see them grow up in.

There is hope. It is not over. We are still making decisions.

We are still creating the world that will become our future.

Thank you for being a part of this journey towards a wiser, kinder world.

Starting in November, keep an eye out for details about our podcast’s Kickstarter campaign. Scheduled to launch in early 2021, the first season will largely be funded by our incredible community supporters, like you. To learn more about the podcast, sign up for email notifications here.

With love,

Hanuman Goleman

爱博体育网站 Founder & CEO

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Guests Inside My Head: How to Combat Rumination

How many voices chatter inside your head—especially during moments of stress? How often do they speak over each other—over you? All these voices, like guests who pop up unexpectedly to your house, demand attention. At times they are useful, for example, these voices help us intentionally look at a problem and come up with creative solutions, such as how best to navigate a difficult relationship with a new client. Sometimes they’re not helpful, and can keep us caught in a loop of repeating thoughts—we might relive a conversation from the previous day over and over again. In other words, productive mind wandering is different than what often happens—mindless chatter and unhelpful rumination. 

Particularly in moments of stress, or in the face of a setback or unexpected news, unplanned guests may storm the various rooms inside our heads, each voicing their opinions about what we should feel and how we might respond to a difficult situation. Be upset. Be generous. Be angry. Be elated. Without emotional awareness or regulation, the guests in our heads can easily turn a civilized tea party into an out-of-control rager.

These guests in our head often mill about unattended, and sometimes, undisciplined. Matt Killingsworth’s study found that 47% of the time our minds wander, mostly worried about and anticipating what’s to come, or ruminating about the past and what we coulda/shoulda/woulda. The good news: there is increasingly substantive research on how mindfulness can help us to focus on the present moment rather than get stuck in what was or what might be. Some of this research is documented in Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson’s book, Altered Traits.

Mindfulness certainly helps in situations in which the unexpected guests in our head demand so much attention that we become overwhelmed. It enables us to reduce mind wandering and focus better. We can also more effectively manage our triggers. However, as Matt Lippincott and Goleman note, we need more than awareness of our triggers. Otherwise, while we might be fully aware of these guests in our heads, we don’t know how to contain their energy. Without the other competencies of Emotional Intelligence, such as emotional balance and empathy, these guests can overwhelm us.

Whether at work or at home, practicing EI in real life is not easy. Yet without EI, the unexpected guests might overstay their welcome, causing disruption or longer-term harm to the integrity of the house. Mindfulness can encourage awareness and non-judgmental curiosity about the guests and allow us to observe them without falling down a rabbit hole of rumination. With greater self-awareness and self-management, we become more able to attend to each guest without pretending they don’t exist or trying to deny them entry. As studies have shown, suppression or avoidance of emotions and feelings generally result in the opposite of what we want—they eventually surface with even greater fury and demand for attention.

Contrary to some misconceptions, mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence don’t require that we “forgive and forget” when we are negatively impacted or triggered. The impact is still an impact. Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence offer us the tools to better manage how much we are impacted. Self-awareness helps us pay attention to the guests inside our heads without being held captive by them. Self-management enables us to not get carried away such that we forget that we are in control of which voices get to stay. Social awareness and relationship management offer us the capacity to navigate challenging dynamics with others. By practicing these competencies, we can intentionally shift from fruitless rumination to self-reflection.

We have the capacity to choose which guests inside our heads get to stay and which we release so they don’t occupy unnecessary real estate inside our heads. Then we can allow our own inner voice to speak with greater clarity and calm.

Want to develop your Emotional Intelligence in a supportive, virtual community? Over five, twelve, or twenty-four weeks, you can hone the skills that differentiate top-performers. Begin your learning journey this fall. You can learn more and register yourself or your team here.

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True Compassion Takes Action

The number of programs and certifications and courses on mindfulness, compassion, and Emotional Intelligence seem to grow each year. In a time in which the pressure to chase externally-induced goals is heightened, people are increasingly desperate to rediscover meaning and purpose in their lives. Whether through an app or at a retreat, people often feel encouraged and energized to incorporate greater awareness, balance, and empathy into their lives.

Yet after the buzz of time spent amongst like-minded, well-intentioned, deeply-passionate peers wears off, how many actually practice regularly?

Not many of us, at least not always. In one famous study, psychologists John Darley and Daniel Batson told seminary students to prepare to deliver a talk on the meaning of a calling in the ministry. Half the group were told to incorporate the story of the Good Samaritan. As the students were preparing their remarks, the researchers told groups they had to walk to another building to deliver the talk. To half the group, they told them “hurry up, you’re late!;” to other, “take your time.” On the way to the other location an actor slumped in a doorway, coughing and evidently ill. Did the students, particularly those talking about the Good Samaritan, stop to help? Only if they weren’t in a rush. It didn’t matter the subject of their talk. In fact, students would literally step over the evidently ill man in a rush to deliver a talk about the Good Samaritan.

Recently, I was headed to dinner with three friends. Three of us have been immersed in the work of mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, and compassion. The fourth, my friend’s wife, Gwen, listened patiently and quietly as we talked about our shared passion for creating a better world through self-awareness.

At a red light, as I was admiring a frozen yogurt shop, Gwen blurted out, “Stop the car!” She bolted out of the running car. We couldn’t figure out why until we saw Gwen chatting with an elderly man, who looked like he had been living on the streets for quite some time. We then saw her flag down a delivery truck driver and slowly accompany the sick man to a nearby drugstore. When we finally reached her at the drugstore, Gwen was chatting with the store manager while the truck driver was on the phone with emergency medical services. After the CVS store manager assured Gwen the man would be watched over until the ambulance arrived, we left the store.

In a community where homeless folks were not uncommon, Gwen noticed that this elderly man needed help. “NBD,” she said. No big deal. She simply saw someone in need and did something about it. Calling on an unsuspecting UPS driver and staying by this elderly man as he urinated on the short way to the CVS was just something anyone would do.

Except that not everyone would.

Here we were, teachers of mindfulness chatting away about yogurt shops without noticing the people quietly calling for help. Here Gwen was, noticing and acting.

In A Force for Good, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Daniel Goleman share how each of us can take action like Gwen: 1) check into and manage our own emotional states; 2) practice compassion towards self and others; and 3) help those in need. In other words, it’s not enough for our inner world to feel calm and collected. We can talk and share all the research behind compassion and Emotional Intelligence we want. But if we don’t practice it, it remains words on a page. We need to muscularize compassion.

Easier said than done. The good news is that EI is something we can train and cultivate. Practicing the EI competencies, such as empathy, can help us to recognize those in need, whether obviously visible or deeply submerged. Influence can help us motivate others to live more intentionally. In the immersive EICC program, participants are coached first so that they can experience and build empathy for their clients, as well as gain insights into their own barriers. Above all, the EI competencies give us more tools to bring compassion to life as a force for good.

Want to develop your Emotional Intelligence in a supportive, virtual community? Over five, twelve, or twenty-four weeks, you can hone the skills that differentiate top-performers. Begin your learning journey this fall. You can learn more and register yourself or your team here.

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Tired of Counting Breaths? Try Open Awareness

Our personal agency—that over which we have direct control—comes into play when we change our relationship to our thoughts and our emotions. This allows us to fine-tune our reactions to our own emotions as well as those of others. Developing the capacity to relate differently to our internal experience first requires we become cognizant of our mental phenomena (i.e. our thoughts and emotions) as they unfold in the moment. Once we hone our awareness, we can begin to react to our emotions in a more productive way.

Learning to notice our own patterns of thought and emotion can be difficult, but thankfully it’s not impossible. That is where meditation or mind training comes in. The word for meditation in Tibetan, gom, literally means “getting used to” or “familiarizing oneself with.” Getting used to what? Familiarizing ourselves with our own minds and how our thoughts and emotions unfold within our experience.

There are many ways to train the mind through meditation. One way that I’ve found helpful for familiarizing myself with my own patterns of thought and emotions is to sit up in a comfortable, yet upright position in which my spine is straight. Instead of closing my eyes, I often leave mine open. I prefer this because it better prepares me to be able to employ these practices in day-to-day circumstances. I’m not closing myself off to sensory input, rather I’m training in circumstances that more closely resemble our waking reality.

Instead of focusing on an object, I let my mind settle into its natural, wakeful quality, allowing myself to become aware of awareness itself–sometimes referred to as meta-cognition. I gently notice my mind’s capacity to be awake, clear, and spacious; I don’t intently focus on this or that. I just allow my mind to rest in a natural state of openness. I don’t have to imagine or conjure up anything in my mind’s eye, nor do I get involved with what is taking place visually in front of me or what I may hear happening around me, or even with what is unfolding within my own experience (i.e. my thoughts and emotions).

When I do get distracted by sensory inputs, by a thought or an emotion, or any movement of mind whatsoever, I gently notice this with an attitude of openness, like the experience of passing through beautiful scenery while on a train ride. We see the beautiful scenery, if only for a brief moment, and then it’s gone. Instead of getting caught up with the thought or the emotion, I let it pass. Like waiting on a platform for the subway, we may notice the trains as they come and go, but we let them pass, knowing, “this isn’t my train to catch,” and so we don’t get on.

You can also imagine your thoughts and emotions as clouds moving through the sky. Clouds don’t make a big deal about themselves. They just come and go rather unceremoniously. They might produce rain or lightning or thunder and then they are on their merry way. 

By the time you notice you’ve been distracted, you’re already back, meaning your awareness is already poised and ready to perceive whatever unfolds next within the space of your awareness and perception. It’s like riding a well-trained horse, you don’t have to yank at the reins, you lean and the horse senses what you want it to do by the shift in your body’s weight. Our minds are like this, gentle touches are all that is needed. If you start trying to yank around your mind, scolding it each time it moves, be prepared to watch it act out.

Other times our awareness can take on the quality of a cat lying in wait, tail switching back and forth, ready to pounce on whatever comes into its path. When we notice that our awareness is lying in wait for the next thought or emotion to appear we give that up too, letting go of any urges we might feel to become expert noticers. Instead, try taking a deep breath, one that’s slightly deeper than usual. Let this be a gentle reminder to let your mind relax. Then, as you breathe out, release the urge for any mental doing. Your only job at this moment is to be aware, allowing the mind to settle into its natural capacity to be clear. For that instant, the mind clears right up and isn’t preoccupied with anything.

The bright and fresh quality of mind is similar to the experience of taking in a breath of crisp, cold air when you first step outside on a cold winter’s day or how the mind feels after a brisk run when we collapse on the couch when we get home.

I find, for myself, having something that isn’t tangible, yet can still be experienced–like the awake and aware quality of my mind left untampered–is more helpful than intently focusing upon an object, such as the breath. In the space of open awareness, I am able to change my relationship to my thoughts and emotions in the moment. It’s easier to let go when you’re not holding on so tightly to begin with. 

Want to develop your Emotional Intelligence in a supportive, virtual community? Over five, twelve, or twenty-four weeks, you can hone the skills that differentiate top-performers. Begin your learning journey this fall. You can learn more and register yourself or your team here.

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Social and Emotional Learning in Post-Conflict Situations

Photo of Chantha by Thibault van der Stichel

For the past five years, I’ve volunteered at the Cambodian-based NGO Pour un Sourire d’Enfant. Since its foundation in 1996, Pour un Sourire d’Enfant has turned Cambodian children away from defeatism and a vicious cycle of drug addiction, prostitution, gambling, and violence. These children grew up amid severe hardship in which many of them were abused, prostituted, or orphaned in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide, which occurred during the 1970s. Almost 2 million people were murdered. Ethic minorities were targeted as well as students, doctors, lawyers, and business leaders. There was widespread abduction and indoctrination of children, and many were persuaded or forced to commit atrocities. Now, those kids have grown up, and their kids have inherited the extreme violence their parents suffered. This has created a desperate cycle of violence and poverty, and has made scavenging, prostitution, and drugs the main options that these children have to survive.

The Lasting Impact of the Cambodian Genocide

After the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed, the psychological repercussions were enormous, yet mental health care was ignored for many years. With their harrowing past, a significant proportion of the Cambodian population were inevitably afflicted with a variety of mental illnesses, most commonly depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cambodian parents nowadays drink to forget, consume drugs to alleviate the pain, and use violence as a way to educate their children, communicate their needs, and express their emotions. Poverty, desperation, and a lack of empathy make Cambodian parents force their children to work on the streets, search for plastic at dumpsites, or prostitute themselves. These parents abuse their children and often sell them to child traffickers.

I observed that Pour un Sourire d’Enfant does a fantastic job of providing medical care, nutrition security, and education to more than 6,000 Cambodian children. Yet as the students get older, many of them consume drugs and alcohol, gamble, have suicidal thoughts, drop out of school, and struggle to understand and manage their emotions. I didn’t understand why this happened until I read Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Post-Conflict Situations

Thanks to Emotional Intelligence, I learned that family life is our first school for emotional learning and that everything a child sees, feels, and experiences will shape their sense of self. During the first three or four years of life a toddler’s brain grows to about two thirds its full size and evolves in complexity at a higher rate than it ever will again.

The areas of the brain affected by trauma are usually those associated with the regulation of emotion, as well as those that control learning and memory. Studies from the Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, L.L.C. show that other brain regions related to the control of impulses and reasoning, problem-solving, and judgment are also impaired and, therefore, have less influence on an individual’s behavior. Victims of conflicts often have difficulty with bonding and attachment and thus developing stable and trusting relationships. Young children who experience trauma also show cognitive and language delays that place them at risk for early learning difficulties and later academic challenges. Traumatized children often suffer significant mood swings, anger, irritability, and profound depression. 

I soon understood that Cambodia was the perfect example of what could happen to an entire generation if mental health wasn’t taken into account after a country experienced war or conflict. Victims of extreme violence, human trafficking, and abuse, according to Dr. Goleman, “have had an early and steady diet of trauma, but seeing how the brain itself is shaped by brutality—or by love—suggests that childhood represents a unique window of opportunity for emotional lessons. The massive sculpting and pruning of neural circuits in youth is the reason why early emotional hardships and trauma have such enduring and pervasive effects in adulthood.” As a result, the sooner schools embed emotional learning, the greater likelihood that children can develop the skills to manage complex emotions.  

The post-conflict cycle of violence and poverty that occurs within families, communities, and entire countries can be lessened through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) education and reintegration programs. Research shows that SEL programs reduce fighting and bullying and increase academic achievement. Implementing SEL in post-conflict countries can accelerate their social and economic recovery and provide the foundation for a brighter future.

Beyond having the basic needs of food, safety, and shelter met, all people benefit from gaining a basic understanding of their emotions and how to manage them. Emotional Intelligence is key to leading a happier and more fulfilling life. It enables us to understand ourselves and forge meaningful relationships with others. Developing and cultivating EI in education, therefore, creates a foundation for success and helps kids develop emotional balance, self-esteem, and the ability to adapt to life’s challenges.

SEL for the Future of Post-Conflict Countries

There are several ways children can be affected during and after a conflict, such as becoming child soldiers, refugees, or victims of child trafficking. According to the Child Soldiers International’s World Index, in 2017, 203 cases of “suicide bombers” in Nigeria and Cameroon (by Boko Haram) were verified, “more than 3,000 cases of recruitment by armed groups in DR Congo were reported” (46 States militaries around the world continue to recruit children), “at least 19,000 under-18s are believed to be participating in the conflict in South Sudan,” and 240 million children live in countries affected by conflict.

We need to teach children not only how to do math and read English, but also how to understand and navigate their emotions, how to focus and adapt, and how to build positive connections with others. SEL should be incorporated into post-conflict child protection, education, and reintegration programs to help kids who suffer from child trafficking, extreme violence, and war injustices.

Recent research gives us reason to be hopeful. A large meta-analysis of SEL programming showed positive impact up to 18 years later on academics, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use. And, higher social and emotional competencies among SEL students at the end of the initial intervention was the best predictor of long-term benefits, demonstrating how important it is to develop these competencies in students. Ending the cycle of conflict, violence, and trauma is critical to advance civil society and it is within our reach. 

If you would like to learn more about SEL, check out these resources:

Want to develop your Emotional Intelligence in a supportive, virtual community? Over five, twelve, or twenty-four weeks, you can hone the skills that differentiate top-performers. Begin your learning journey this fall. You can learn more and register yourself or your team here.

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Equality Starts with Emotional Intelligence

For over 40 years, governments have come together under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) to discuss how to build and sustain a healthy and productive environment for all. In that time, they have made great strides; for example, the number of people living in extreme poverty (income below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day) and maternal and child mortality have declined, while primary school enrollment figures have increased since the 1990s. But the work is far from finished. In 2015, the UN adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to mobilize a global effort to end poverty by 2030. However, achieving these 17, from inclusive and quality education for all, to gender equality, to inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities, requires more than policy–it necessitates understanding how human beings make decisions and work together.

Logically, few people would dispute the values of equality, justice, and security for all. Yet many express strong emotion when it comes to how to achieve these values, what those values actually mean, and who they serve–particularly if any actions may impact our individual well-being. Achieving world peace and equality might be impossible, but that improbability hasn’t stopped many from trying.

On May 19, Daniel Goleman and Head of Leadership Programs at Goleman EI, Michele Nevarez, took the stage at the UN alongside a group of passionate individuals to speak on the role of emotions and Emotional Intelligence (EI) in achieving the UN’s 2030 SDGs. This momentous occasion marked the first time emotions were the focal point of discussion on the floor of the UN–a result of the efforts of an unsuspecting intern, Fernando Restoy Rodriguez, whose own experience working with youth in Cambodia prompted an interest in EI. (Restoy is joining the second cohort of the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification.)

While EI is not a one-stop solution to global peace (if it were only that simple), it is a critical component of leadership, relationships, and getting things done. In fact, the second Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld created a Quiet Room at the UN in the 1950s because he understood the vital importance of self-reflection, a key part of EI, in the heavy work of achieving global equality. However, this room stayed relatively unknown until meditation became part of the “cool” vernacular.

The reality is that we haven’t historically heard the word “emotions” used when it comes to geopolitics and treaties–other than it serving as a barrier. The training of diplomats and mediators typically involves learning how to unpack hidden agendas and unspoken needs for shared goals, but not the training of emotional regulation and awareness. If impasse and conflict, or worse, war, is presumably a result of emotions running high, the answer must be to remove them.

Yet we know from emerging science that emotions are inextricably connected to how we make decisions, how we communicate with others, and how we make sense of the world. Nobel Laureate scientist Herbert Simon notes that our emotions can skew our decisions and play a critical role in decision making. Our brain wants to keep us alive, and so we’re constantly trying to figure out whether what is happening around–and inside–us is going to hurt us. And when we try to make decisions that impact millions of people, it becomes even tougher to “remove” emotions. As a result, our intentions may not translate into the wisest decisions or desired goals. As Daniel Goleman notes in The Brain and Emotional Intelligence, “in order to make a good decision, we need to have feelings about our thoughts.” With Emotional Intelligence we learn to understand the feelings we have and their impact on decision making.

Individuals tasked with achieving world peace and equality come with the biases and agendas of their governments, their constituents, and their personal experiences. They are human, after all. The work is not easy, however, and we cannot begin to address world concerns if we are not aware of our own power and responsibility. A key component of EI in the efforts for global peace and equity is the work one must do internally first. As Nevarez noted, “at the heart of EI is personal agency, which leads to global agency.” It is like the oft-used metaphor of the butterfly. One flutter of a tiny butterfly can have massive reverberations.

But if there is no opportunity to pause amid the cacophony of discord and disagreement, we become more susceptible to making decisions that may unintentionally harm others. That is precisely why Hammarskjöld created the Quiet Room to bring back “the stillness which we have lost in our streets, and in our conference rooms, and to bring it back to a setting in which no noise would impinge on our imagination.” If we aren’t introspective enough to know what is happening inside, it is that much harder to do good for others. The EI competencies, such as self-awareness, equip individuals to approach global challenges with greater openness and curiosity, and to make more ethical decisions.

Moreover, to achieve our goals, we have to truly connect with others. To do that, we have to offer our full attention–even when we disagree. As Goleman emphasized, “One must be able to go deep inside to be able to give back to others … There has to be a purpose that resonates with the heart.” EI enables us to deepen our connections with others.

In other words, emotions will always play a role in achieving global peace and equality. When we acknowledge emotions and are mindful of their impact, we have the ability to make better decisions as well as a greater likelihood of success. Cultivating EI helps us manage the complexity of negotiation and conflict about what equality means on a global stage. As University of Toronto professor Stéphane Côte found in her research with Wharton professor Jeremy Yip, “People who are emotionally intelligent don’t remove all emotions from their decision-making. They remove emotions that have nothing to do with the decisions.”

EI is a renewable resource we need to cultivate and nurture. If we are to truly work toward universal peace and equality–no matter how improbable–we must approach ourselves and others with greater awareness and appreciation.

Want to develop your Emotional Intelligence in a supportive, virtual community? Over twelve weeks, you can hone the skills that differentiate top-performers. Begin your learning journey on July 22, September 9, or October 7. You can learn more and register yourself or your team here.

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Time to Think: The Importance of Introspection in Leadership

I have the privilege to work with leaders from diverse sectors including government, medicine, nonprofits, and the arts. Something that constantly comes up during coaching leaders is their near constant fire-fighting and focus on the day-to-day. Like the movie, Groundhog Day, it seems like the same things happen over and over again. The clients I coach want to break the cycle of crisis and reactivity, but seem unable to. Yet they know they are capable of leading differently.

When leaders lead by crisis management, often a root cause is a lack of introspection–an absence of personal and strategic think time. This includes time to think about the future, time to plan, and time to consider what is most important. One way executives can explore this phenomenon is by reviewing their calendar. When do they think? Do they have time, their most precious commodity, blocked on their calendar for introspection?

The classic definition of introspection is a reflective looking inward, an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings. A leader needs introspection time for looking inward–to consider who they are, what they value, what motivates them–to build their self-awareness. I work with leaders who know the value of this self-reflection; they show up focused and clear. I also work with leaders who lack this habit of personal introspection. These leaders tend to show up frustrated and unfocused.

Looking inward is critical for self-knowledge and building one’s self-awareness. And as we know through Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence, our most effective leaders are highly self-aware. Self-awareness is the gateway to self-management and relationship building–important competencies for effective leaders.

Introspection or examination of personal values, meaning, and purpose creates clarity. It enables leaders to focus on long-term success, not simply fire-fighting. There is power in envisioning and planning for a future. If you don’t take the time, either during your totally packed week or during your precious weekend time, you miss an important leadership duty–“the lifting of a person’s vision to higher sights, raising a person’s performance to a higher standard” (Peter Drucker).

Journaling is a simple practice leaders can adopt to strengthen introspection and self awareness. There is great power writing. Not only does it bring inner clarity, the act of writing increases our ability to achieve. The physical act of writing stimulates the base of the brain, a group of cells called the reticular activating system (RAS). In Write It Down, Make It Happen, author Henriette Anne Klauser says that, “Writing triggers the RAS, which in turn sends a signal to the cerebral cortex: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don’t miss this detail!’ Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that […] were there all along.” And we know writing down our goals helps in goal attainment. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, studies goal setting and found that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals simply by writing them down.

Leaders need to schedule time to be introspective and increase their self-awareness. And the simple practice of writing down their insights, intentions, and goals helps them become a more intentional leader who gets the best out of themselves, their people, and their organizations.

Are you interested in leading Emotional Intelligence transformations? Apply today for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. Whether you’re an established coach or new to the field, this intensive program offers the tools and first hand experience you need to coach for transformational growth.

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