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Toning up your emotions

“Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there were two friends named IQ and EQ…” No, this isn’t a magical story, but if you believed some of the more extravagant claims made for emotional intellignce, also known as EQ, then you would be excused for believing there to be a fairy tale ending “at the bottom of the EQ rainbow”.


So what, exactly, is emotional intelligence? It is commonly described in a two parts: firstly, as the ability to identify and accurately ‘read’ our own and others’ feelings and emotions; and secondly by being able use these insights to constructively engage in sometimes difficult, sometimes sensitive, or sometimes conflict-ridden conversations that lead to constructive learning outcomes (and hence personal learning) for all parties involved.


Some of you at this point may be thinking that you’d like to go looking for that pot of gold at the bottom of the EQ rainbow. If so, remember the old adage of ‘be careful what you wish for because you may just find it’. Done properly, developing and enhancing our emotional intelligence means embarking on a personal learning journey about self.


In the course of this journey, we will learn things about ourselves. Some things we will like. Some things we will not like. Some things may well unsettle us. And so they need to, because this is what provides the passion and the courage to change. But we humans don’t always readily take up the challenge of change — not openly, willingly or courageously. This helps explain the best evidence we have that human beings change what they choose to change.


It’s not changing that’s difficult. It’s making the deliberate, conscious intentional choice to change that is difficult. Extremely difficult! And I speak from personal experience in my own life, just as all of you reading this article can testify to in your lives.


So in future editions of Verve I invite you to embark on a journey of personal discovery and change, if you are up for it! And if you choose to engage, it has the potential to change your life. But beware, it is not a ‘pot of gold’ that you will discover. It is much more valuable. It is a treasure trove of self-discovery and personal learning. But don’t be fooled into thinking it is easy, because it is not. It is hard work.


I would like to share with you my favourite quote about change, it is from Eric Hoffer: “In times of change learners will inherit the earth and the learned are beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists”.


Our workplaces are filed with very clever, very competent, very able people, but some of them have stopped learning. Sometimes it happens to us. And when we stop learning you and I find ourselves at the top of a very slippery slope. All of us (and I include myself) have been in this place at different times in our lives. So I invite you to make a deliberate, conscious, intentional choice to take up the challenge.


And as for that little voice in your head saying: “What will tomorrow bring if I make the choice to take up this challenge?” The answer is simple. The choices you make or don’t make today (starting right now, as you are reading this article) will decide. It’s worth remembering that the quality of our journey through life is determined by the cumulative sum total of all the choices we make. And the quality of the choices we make is so often a function of the questions we ask ourselves (or the ones we don’t). Sometimes we are not simply asking ourselves enough courageous questions.


So for those of you who are interested, your homework for the next month is to keep a ‘feelings diary’. Once a day note down: (a) the range of feelings and emotions you are experiencing; (b) their triggers (i.e. where were you and what were you doing at the time?); and (c) what ‘self talk’ did you catch yourself engaging in at the time?


Grab an exercise book and get writing.


See you next month!


Words: Mike Keenan


09 5240057 |


Mike is a management consultant and director of Keenan James Consulting Ltd- a management consultancy specialising in leadership development and executive leadership coaching.