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Why Your Emotional Intelligence Matters More Than Your IQ


Can't watch? Here's the transcript: 

Today, I want to talk to you about why emotional intelligence is the most important thing in determining your success in any area of your life and why it matters way more than your IQ. In our culture, we've learned to place a lot of value on success as being the thing that defines our happiness. And we were frequently asked as young children starting at a very young age, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Our education system focuses on getting the right grades so you can get into the right college so that you can get the right job so that you can make the right amount of money. And we worry about money and about success and about accomplishment. Starting at a young age, we try to find the exact path so as to make sure that everything in our life works out.

And this breeds a culture in which depression and anxiety have skyrocketed to unparalleled heights. Some studies even suggest that the average high school student today has the same anxiety level as a psychiatric patient did back in the 1950s and we're not taught that.

What I think is the most important education that we can ever receive and this education is that the thoughts that we focus on create our experience of ourselves and our lives. And we're not taught how to use our mind to intentionally think the thoughts that create the feelings of gratitude, of pride, of love, of self, compassion, of happiness. And that's really what predicts success in our work, in our relationships and in our life far more profoundly than our ability to solve mathematical equations or reaching that next goal that we think is going to be the thing to make us happy.

Now, as human beings, we're innately emotional creatures. So Daniel Goldman, in his groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence, wrote that emotions guide everything that we do. But most people don't understand that it is their thoughts that cause their emotions in the first place. And so even though there are definitely some people that are naturally better at managing their emotions than some other people, none of us have any choice about whether or not we're going to feel emotions.

In fact, we feel emotions almost automatically because we don't know how to manage our minds. And emotional intelligence is the ability to guide our thinking so that we can manage and adjust our emotions to live the lives that we were really meant to live and left unchecked.

Our minds are on autopilot, so they go to the same habits of thought over and over and over, and what gets us into trouble and can drive us to feel emotions that cause a lot of suffering or even cause us to act in very automatic and brainless ways is that our automatic minds cause these emotions, which, which can trump reason.

So when something in our environment, like some person or some circumstance or even some thought about regret from our past or fear about what's going to happen in our future, when these thoughts trigger that primitive part of our brain called the amygdala. It springs instantly into action and it hijacks the thinking part of our brain, which is the neocortex. So unless we are able to intervene in our thoughts to short circuit that reactive response, our amygdala bypasses logic, it bypasses rationalism. It bypasses reason. And the result of that is not pretty.

Although we might say, I want to have good relationships and I want to feel peace and I want to not be so angry or anxious or sad or discontent, we keep feeling the same feelings over and over because we aren't taught how to manage our minds to feel the way that we want to feel.

And this is how a mother of three can scream like a crazy mad woman at her children for not tidying their rooms even though she knows that a calm and firm voice would probably get a better result. Needless to say, emotional intelligence has everything to do with being courageous.

Because we are aware of how the emotion of fear is driving us to attempt to control aspects of our lives that we don't even realize that we don't have control over. Those fears will run our lives. And this is how we end up playing it safe and not being vulnerable and staying quiet and minimizing the risk of disappointment or rejection or failure in our life, which leads to shrinking smaller and smaller so that we can stay inside our comfort zone.

This is how we keep thinking those same thoughts, which create the same emotions, which create the same reactions, which create how the relationships we have with ourselves and the people around us, and especially the people who matter to us the most. Right?

And certainly the way that we look at the circumstances that we can't control. But the good news is unlike IQ, which is fixed, our emotional intelligence is something that we can learn and also something that we can grow over time. And this is why I find the concept of emotional intelligence so important. It's the most important education that's needed in our culture. And this is both for children and for adults. Because I have worked with plenty of people in my career that whose IQ is far higher than my own and who've reached some of the highest levels of what our culture considers to be successful because they've made a tremendous amount of money or they have accomplished a huge amount professionally.

But the issues that they have shared with me again and again, like how to deal with conflicts in all of their relationships or how to feel content and fulfilled in their lives, or how to stop feeling so overwhelmed and anxious and angry and dissatisfied, right? That's not something that can be solved using this same mind that got them to their level of success.

Many of these people have worked their whole lives to get to the next goal and get to the next level of success, only to feel once they've achieved it, burnt out and stressed out and unhappy along the journey. And it's not until there's something pretty horrible that happens in their lives like a divorce or a conflict, a conflict that they have with their son or daughter or a chronic sense of unhappiness that they seek my help.

What if we could live in a world where people are taught how to think from a very young age so that they don't feel like they're struggling through life and always trying to reach some arrival point of satisfaction or happiness that keeps seeming elusive. Many people think that the goal in life is to try to be happy most of the time. But what that actually creates is more on happiness because life can be unpredictable and sometimes life can be messy.

What has me be able to have the life that I have now is the awareness that it's not the people in my life or the circumstances of my life that cause my emotions. It's my thinking. And when my own mind is on autopilot, my Inner Critic mind loves to trigger me into thinking that somehow I'm not good enough and therefore I have to fix or control or change something in order for me to feel good enough.

But boy, thank God for this work because I know how to separate from my automatic Inner Critic thinking I know what's in my Inner Critic mind and I know that my Inner Critic mind creates my automatic thoughts. And these thoughts are not facts, they're just thoughts.

So the thoughts that I think, which I've really had for my whole life, those thoughts are the thoughts that have me trying to control the people, places and circumstances in my life so that I can feel like I'm good enough. And when I'm doing that, that leads me down the path of anxiety, overwhelm, dissatisfaction. And I'm like that hamster on a hamster wheel, running and running and running to get to the next.

So when I choose the work of carefully choosing my thoughts that are in alignment with feeling peace and joy and gratitude and contentment, then I stopped trying to fix or change the circumstances or other people in my life so that I can feel the way I want to feel.

Managing my Inner Critic thoughts on a daily basis allows me to change the automatic thoughts. And that's whether it's about my husband or my kids, or it could be something about my business or something else. But I work inside my own mind to think differently. And when I think differently, I feel differently. And then when I feel differently, I act differently.

See, emotional intelligence is certainly not about being joyful and ecstatic all the time. It's really about understanding your automatic mind and why you really get triggered and what are the thoughts that are underneath that emotion. And when you have that skill, you can handle any emotion that comes your way. You no longer have to control or avoid situations that might make you feel afraid or uncomfortable or have you risk failure or rejection. And this is where confidence comes from, from knowing that you can handle any discomfort that life might bring you, and you can actually let yourself feel the discomfort.

Our ability to manage our emotions and respond well to all of those emotions around us can have a profound impact on our ability to cope with change, to build trust and connection in our relationship, to advance our career and to really enjoy the wellbeing that we want.

But listen, don't just take it from me. There's actually research at Harvard and Stanford and a lot of other leading institutions that have actually concluded that your emotional intelligence is a stronger predictor of success as a leader, as an employee, as a parent, and as a spouse than traditional measures of intelligence. So in other words, emotional intelligence trumps IQ at every level. And the good news is that we are never too old or too young for that matter to become more emotionally intelligent. And in fact, we actually get better at it as we get older.

It begins with cultivating greater self of our automatic thoughts. That's the basic building block for success in every area of your life. Tuning in and acknowledging the emotions that have you feeling, the way that you feel and the thoughts is the first step. And being able to use your thoughts and emotions to look at what you're really thinking and to short circuit your amygdala's primitive fight, flight, freeze reaction, which creates the destructive emotions like anger or jealousy or disappointment or rejection or fear.

The practice of intentionally creating new thoughts is what makes all the difference in how you deal with the challenges and the challenging people that come your way every single day. So the concepts of emotional intelligence are fundamental in the programs that I run with women and companies, and I've been applying it in my own life because I'm on the same journey as the women who are in all of my programs.

What I know is that when you learn to dethrone your Inner Critic sometimes it's two steps forward and one step back, right? Like those messy rooms of my kids that trigger me into the one step back, right? But I'd like to think that even though you're right, I'm always catching myself heading into those emotional nosedives and short-circuiting my Inner Critic before it takes over. But you know, sometimes I don't, sometimes that's not the case. And this is part of being human, right?

Sometimes fear, disappointment and upset definitely make a home in my head for a longer than I want and longer that serves me or you know, truth be told anybody else in my life. But I've also learned that when we are intentional about being more aware of our emotions, we get better at shifting them before they trigger us to act in ways that hurt either ourselves or the people around us.

When I find myself starting to feel upset or disappointed or hurt or anxious, I'm much more able to spot my automatic thinking. That's at the heart of that emotion. And it is this recognition that allows me to reassess my current situation from a more enlightened and clear-headed perspective and mindfully choose a thought that leads to a more constructive response than I otherwise would have had.

So now I only yell at my kids to clean their rooms, like once on, I don't know, a full moon or something right now, as I've said, right? Sometimes it's two steps forward and one step back. But as you step forward into the rest of your day, you can just maybe take a moment to tune into the emotions percolating in your mind today and notice how they make you feel,

Notice that actions that they might predispose you to take and the impact that those actions have on your ability to achieve whatever it is that you'd like today, tomorrow, and in the rest of your life. Because your thoughts and emotions are so powerful, but they don't have to overpower you and overpower your life. That's ultimately your choice. So choose your thoughts wisely.

Is Your Inner Critic Keeping You From Success?

Find out what your Inner Critic is saying to sabotage your success and how you can move past her limiting beliefs. 


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