The Most Rewarding Journey: Acquiring EQ Through Self-Awareness

Are you ready to pivot? I’m referring to switching gears from “Gettin’ Gritty” to developing the secret ingredient to a successful career and a fulfilled life. It’s known as Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and it’s the E of GRACE in the WorkplaceTM. For the next several articles, I’ll be exploring with you the importance of this virtue, and equipping you with the tools you’ll need to acquire it and use it to your advantage.

Simply defined, EQ is the ability to recognize, understand and manage your own emotions, as well as the capacity to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. This, of course, is easier said than done in real time, but by adhering to the foundational tenets of EQ, you’ll have cleared a path to progress.

For those of you who naturally possess a certain level of EQ, you’re likely sitting at your desk and pondering some ways to leverage it. Perhaps you’re feeling more prepared to engage in that difficult conversation you’ve been meaning to have with your direct report. Or, in foreshadowing your family’s weekend, you might be rewarding yourself in advance for how patient and present you’ll be with your demanding mother-in-law. In other words, you will intentionally manage your emotions. This, essentially, is engaging in one of the core tenets of EQ: Self-Regulation, also known as “The Jedi Mind Trick of Corporate America”. And as I expand further on the foundations of EQ, I invite those who feel they could use a little more Self-Awareness into the conversation.

Finding A Baseline

Before we can regulate our behavior, we must be aware of our behavior. Think about how many people in this society reside in a bubble all their own, completely oblivious of their conduct and indifferent to the feelings of others around them. Seemingly EVERYBODY, right? When’s the last time you were in a restaurant and the dude next to you was speaking on his phone WAY too loudly? Probably this morning. How about the woman who walked an entire city block without looking up from the little rectangle in her hand? You probably just passed her ten minutes ago. Think about all that you’ve witnessed and compare these folks’ level of Self-Awareness with your own. If you’re honest with yourself, you can begin to gauge where you stand on the EQ spectrum, and then take steps to regulate your behavior accordingly.

Begin Your Journey

It’s easy to indicate and ridicule the obliviousness of others. But when it comes to ourselves, it’s “tough to be tough”. Unless someone gives us timely feedback, as in “watch out for that parking meter” when we’re looking down at our phones, we remain unaware of our “fog” and are unable to see ourselves in context. As long as we escape injury, both physical and emotional, we are destined to remain clueless.

Even statistically, it’s more difficult than you might think to observe yourself in the moment. According to Travis Bradberry, coauthor of the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, two-thirds of the population “…are typically controlled by our emotions and are not yet skilled at spotting them and using them to our benefit”. But that’s for now. The good news is that Self-Awareness can absolutely continue to increase and improve throughout your life. In fact, you can spend an entire lifetime becoming more Self-Aware; it doesn’t simply flick on like a light switch. It builds slowly and continuously, like a spiritual quest for enlightenment. All that’s required to start on your journey is the commitment to continue!

And A Little Courage Helps

Some of us spend our lives hiding from ourselves. It’s intimidating to take a hard and honest look in the mirror— that is, until you look bravely and unflinchingly. Who isn’t disturbed by the sound of their own voice when they first hear it on a recording, or judgmental of their appearance in a photograph?

Think about when you’ve felt like hiding your head in the sand like an ostrich rather than enduring that brutal review with your boss. It may go against our nature to cast our ego aside and observe who we really are, warts and all. But it doesn’t kill us. You might even say it serves to make us stronger. That, my friends, is Self-Awareness. It’s the gateway to growth, more meaningful interactions, better work results, and peace of mind. I think you can handle that! Think it through, and prepare to explore in my next article how to become even more Self-Aware. A rewarding journey awaits!