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  • Writer's pictureStephen

Most of us are aware of the idea of IQ - the score associated with a person's intelligence. However, in the past several years, a new field of study has emerged related to another measurement known as EQ - Emotional Intelligence. One of the fundamental beliefs about a person’s IQ is that it is static, or fixed. In contrast, one of the exciting components of EQ is the fundamental belief that it can be grown and developed.

Today I want to launch a series of messages outlining just what EQ is, and how we can work to grow and strengthen it in our lives. For this first installment, I simply want to share the four components that make up Emotional Intelligence, and then we will take a closer look at each one over the next several weeks.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is comprised of Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. Each of these layers build on one another, so the beginning point for growth is increasing our awareness of our own emotions (Self-Awareness), then learning how to manage those emotions (Self-Management). From there we become more aware of emotion in others (Social Awareness) and learn how to manage emotion within those relationships (Relationship/Social Management).

Here is a simple chart to illustrate:

Some initial thoughts to ponder: Is this a new idea, and if so, what does it bring up? Is there someone you think might have a high EQ - they seem emotionally intelligent? What qualities and characteristics do they possess that lead you to think that about them? Where do you think your EQ might be? What would it take for it to grow in your life, and what impact might that make?

One of the things I love about studying EQ is that no matter where an individual may be, growth is possible! As a certified Emotional Intelligence Coach, I'd love to chat with you about that journey of growth. Feel free to reach out for a free 30-minute consultation if you're interested!

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  • Writer's pictureStephen

Back when I was in junior high and high school (in the Dark Ages when we had to walk to school in the snow, uphill, both ways!), if we had to leave class we had to get a permission slip from the teacher. In some schools it was a hall pass, but either way, it was a slip of paper with someone's signature on it (a person of "authority") who was giving their permission to the person carrying the slip to be going or doing whatever it was they were doing.

I attended a conference once where the organizers (thanks Rob Bell & Liz Gilbert!) led us in an exercise of writing our own permission slips. It was a way of trying to remove the barriers that got in the way, mostly in our own minds, of actually doing something good for ourselves. They gave us lots of ideas of things we maybe wanted to do, but we kept talking ourselves out of. They essentially asked, "If you could write yourself a permission slip and it gave you the authority to actually do it, what would you write?"

At first glance this seemed like a silly idea to me - it's just a piece of paper! But the more I thought about it, and then actually did it, it became a significant exercise for me. In fact, I still keep that permission slip in my journal and periodically review it! The power of the slip wasn't actually about the paper, it was about giving myself time and space to actually think about what I had been holding back from, and what I had been talking myself out of because I "shouldn't," and then putting that down on paper for me to see it in a concrete way.

If you were going to take some time this week and write yourself a permission slip, what would be on it? What have you been avoiding that just needs tackled? What have you talked yourself out of because it seemed too selfish? What have you been doing or not doing because you "should" or "shouldn't" do it? What would it mean for you to actually give yourself permission to go for it? Why not take some time and reflect, and write yourself a permission slip?

Yes, you have permission!

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  • Writer's pictureStephen

Sometimes it feels like different situations arise in my life that don't appear to be related, but they come together in a way that they remind me of deeper realities. That happened this past week.

First, I attended a conference over the weekend that was studying the dynamics of group relations in real time. Because it was an experiential conference, I was both a witness and a participant in a few very difficult conversations that had diverse outcomes. Second, this week we collectively honored and remembered the life and message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was clearly a man that was willing to have difficult conversations with lots of different outcomes.

While you may think I want to reflect on difficult conversations, what I am actually interested in is the key ingredient to the way the various outcomes of those conversations unfolded. In each of those examples, it seems like the outcome is directly impacted by the posture of the participants. Specifically, we lean in to learn, or we lean out to avoid.

I will illustrate with a conversation I had at my conference. At one point I was both a witness and a participant in pointing out to a fellow attendee that their behavior was assuming a significant amount of authority to act and speak on behalf of others when they hadn't really asked for permission to do so. When this individual was confronted with their behavior, rather than lean in with some curiosity and vulnerability, they leaned out, and in fact, withdrew themselves from the situation. They avoided any attempt to learn about themselves, and instead just avoided any kind of growth opportunity. They doubled down on being right and everyone else not understanding them. However, I also had some difficult conversations with people where everyone was leaning in, which resulted in some really powerful learning and growth!

I think we can see very similar reactions to difficult conversations MLKJr attempted to have in our world. If people were willing to lean in and learn, change was possible. But many people weren't willing to do that, and eventually he was killed because people wanted to totally avoid it!

How and where might this apply to our lives? Are there difficult conversations we need to have with family members or colleagues? Are others engaging us in difficult conversations? If so, what kind of a posture are we going to adopt? Will we lean in with the possibility of learning and growth, recognizing that it will be hard but worth it? Or will we lean out and take the easier road of just avoiding the struggle altogether?

I hope that in the days to come we will all continue to lean in and discover the possibilities for learning and growth that might be present for us!

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