4 bold ways emotional intelligence helps us succeed

When we see one of our peers excelling, the first thing that comes to our mind is usually: How did they do that? The best of us admire their accomplishments, but we also crave to get insights into how they did it. We want to know if we can blaze that same trail, and even get their quicker.

Through my years of academic research, working in business and coaching high-achievers, I’ve found that in virtually all circumstances emotional intelligence is the key differentiator for success. Here is some research to back that point up:

“After Motorola provided EI training for staff in a manufacturing plant, the productivity of more than 90 percent of those trained went up (Bruce Cryer, Rollin McCraty, and Doc Childre: “Pull the Plug on Stress,” Harvard Business Review, July 2003).” (Source: Harvard Extension School)

As I’ve written about previously, emotional intelligence is incredibly accessible and easy to apply. It’s a choice all of us can make each day.

We can all become more empathetic and better listeners.

We can all build time into our day to think deeper about our thoughts, the way we feel, and how those feelings affect our mood and actions.

We can all adapt to any new circumstance that we face — we just need the willpower and the understanding to recognize the stimuli we face, and how to react.

A great example of this is navigating the always-changing social media landscape here in late 2020. Look at the success of TikTok — now is likely the best time to “ride the wave” of success that this app is experiencing.

Instagram and LinkedIn are still enjoying huge popularity, but less so these days for Facebook. You have to know when to adapt — whether to stay the course or change things up.

Self-awareness informs our entrepreneurial decisions. I’ve found this is crucial when determining what I’m doing well, what I enjoy, and what I should focus more of my energy on. We can’t do everything — or at least if we truly, we won’t do everything well. So it’s best when we’re constantly self-evaluating and having the awareness to know what we do well, and what we’re best to leave behind.

Here are four ways that emotionally intelligent people achieve life-changing success, and how you can do the same:

1. Use ADVERSITY to your advantage

After any loss, mistake, failure, it’s absolutely critical we evaluate that experience and determine why, how and most importantly what we can now do about it. Like every great entrepreneur, athlete or startup founder, we need to tweak, make adjustments and learn from what we just did. This is time think creatively and to self-analyze.

This is time to prepare, overcome and build resilience.

Take this on how children cope with adversity from the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University:

“Children who do well in the face of significant hardship typically show some degree of natural resistance to adversity and strong relationships with the important adults in their family and community. Indeed, it is this interaction between biology and environment that builds the capacities to cope with adversity and overcome threats to healthy development.”

It’s not time to beat ourselves up or criticize ourselves harshly. It truly is about using emotional intelligence to build resilience in the face of adversity. We all need to get smarter, wiser and more adaptable to advance forward onto the next dream, goal, task or opportunity. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and you’ll make your greatest strides once you begin to use adversity to your advantage.

2. Visualize the win

Visualization is about seeing the Win. Visualize what you’re doing and color those thoughts with positive emotions. This takes a lot of self-awareness, and it also takes an optimistic, positive outlook to see good. Not everyone does this. People who lack self-awareness simply jump right in without a plan.

Visualization is about recognizing our emotions, imbuing our thoughts with positive energy and seeing the success, and then launching forward.

See yourself standing in the winner’s circle, paint that mental picture like you’re Picasso. Get descriptive, get specific and use your creative imagination by writing it down and turning this into something that is actionable.

3. Mastery overcoming stress

A major component of emotional intelligence is the ability to successfully process emotional and social stress. When we’re taking on too much stress, and worse — not even recognizing it, this can dramatically affect our productivity and overall well-being. As Daniel Goleman writes,

“When people are under stress, surges in the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol strongly affect their reasoning and cognition. At low levels, cortisol facilitates thinking and other mental functions, so well-timed pressure to perform and targeted critiques of subordinates certainly have their place.” Source: HBR

So, how do you overcome stress? Try these three things:

  • Adopt a meditation practice. This works wonder for reflection, self-awareness, mindfulness and relieving stress
  • Dedicate time to solitude for yourself, but also consciously plan time to spend around people that bring out the best in you and get you feeling good about yourself. If that’s not your family or friends, then find a local activity or group to get involved in
  • Read a great book like Mindset by Carol Dweck, or perhaps even a book on building your foundation like The Value of You.

4. Add empathy to every relationship

When you look to build relationships, lead with empathy. Empathy is:

“The capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.”

Empathy is intrinsically self-giving and generous in nature. Genuinely seek to give, rather than to take for yourself. If you build relationships with a positive, authentic mindset and way of giving, you will find a loving, appreciative return. Lead with empathy — this helps in marketing, sales, business, friendships, attracting the life partner you want, and in every relationship.

As I write in Emotional Intelligence for the Modern Leader:

“When you begin each day, as you think about your goals, dreams, and ambitions, take the time to give thanks for the colleagues you have. Think about one way you can help someone and be willing to listen.”

Concluding thoughts

You can improve your mindset and opportunities with emotional intelligence. You must be willing to adapt and make sense of your experiences in order to move forward.

Focus on empathy, self-awareness and self-care and you’re well on your way to happiness, fulfillment and success.