Reflections on Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
Updated: May 2
Part II: Self-Development
"Are you the Driver or Passenger in your car?"
This question may sound absurd to ask, particularly if you recently spent thousands of $dollars purchasing a new vehicle. Naturally, you would respond: ”Of course I am the driver of my vehicle Jude!”. But, we do need to ask the question again. This time with some emphasis: WHO is driving YOUR vehicle (of life)? You or another?
In our last discussions on Leadership, we focused on the subject of ‘Self Awareness’. Specifically, we looked at how leadership feels and some of the internal challenges we grapple with in leading self - and other. I now want to take our discussions a slight step further to focus on what the ‘internal challenge(s)’ of leadership, (or leading self) is, and offer some thoughts for use as a self-development tool.
To start, let’s provide a response to the question: “Are you the driver or passenger in your car”?
If we are to sum up the ‘technology’ that comprises the internal functioning
of human beings, we essentially consist of 4 main inter-linking neurological ‘buttons’: (i) thinking,(ii) feeling,(iii) speaking, and (iv) behaving. In effect, what we think, directly influences how we feel, speak (or language) and act. It's how we are wired. Note:Thinking feeling, speaking and behaving occur in milliseconds, often subconsciously, and not necessarily in a linear manner.
So, here’s an example of how the technology operates in practice:
You wake up in the morning. It is raining. The clouds are grey. You look outside your window and say to yourself: “What a sad day!” As you said to yourself “it’s a sad day”, note, you actually begin to feel sad. Indeed, in your subsequent communication with other, you communicate ‘sadness’, and behave in a like manner. In effect, you inadvertently give off an energy of sadness felt and experienced by others.
But it does not stop there. No. It continues: At some point, you begin to realise that you feel
sad…for feeling sad in the first place, and all of a sudden you find yourself in a continuous
cycle of sadness. Upon ‘internal’ examination, you realise you’re not actually sure why you feel so sad apart from the fact that you feel sad. Like a passenger in a vehicle, you’ve arrived at a destination not entirely sure how you got there in the first place! Might this be you, on occasion? Or always, perhaps? For some, this can be the commencement of feelings of depression…
How can we manage how we think, feel, speak and behave? How can YOU be the driver of YOUR vehicle as opposed to a passenger?
Eckhart Tolle (“The Power of Now”), in discussing this topic tells a story of a man begging for money on the streets of Asia. Perched on a wooden box, he would hold his hand out and call out; “Spear some change please”. On this particular day, a Sufi walked
right passed him, not giving him anything. After walking on for a while, the Sufi suddenly stopped and walked back to the Beggar. “What are you sitting on?”, the Sufi asked. The Beggar looked at the Sufi with questioning eyes and said, “A wooden box”. The Sufi responded; “Have you ever opened it to see what’s inside”? Before the Beggar could respond the Sufi walked off. The Beggar opened the wooden box he had been sitting on. It was full of gold pieces!
Being the driver of your thinking, feeling, speaking and behaving requires that we first of all
look inside ourselves. Like a ‘Sherlock Holmes’ character, undertake a thorough investigation of your insides! Understand your inner workings; know their patterns and how they typically present – then develop a simple strategy for managing them effectively.
For example, when you feel ‘sad’, think (about something) ‘happy’. If feeling moody, laugh at something totally silly. In effect, conjure up an emotion that puts you in a more ‘resourceful state’. Called the ‘elastic band’ analogy, stretch yourself, consciously, to do the exact polar opposite of how you feel to bring yourself into a more pleasant ‘state’.
With conscientious practice, eventually, it becomes habit. You’ve successfully managed yourself by reaching inside your internal ‘treasure box’. This is self-management. The ongoing process of managing self is self-development. Self-development, simply put, is about being the best human being that you can be. This is your ongoing self-development challenge to embrace.
What kind of a human being do you want to be?
Think of one thing you would really like to change (in your life). What is it?
So, what’s stopping you?
Take your time to answer within…
To be the best human being you can be, (or managing how you think, feel, speak, and behave), is the single most important duty human beings are called to undertake. Note use of the word "called". From the Latin “vocare”, (‘to call’), it suggests a vocational quality to self-development. A ‘calling’, as it were, to self-development that will see us move from an “inauthentic to an authentic existence” (‘Being and Time, Martin Heidegger).
Remember the Kit-Kat advert strap-line: “Have a break, have a Kit-Kat”? Well, self-
development is actually all about that, not the chocolate part, but giving YOU a break! You take YOU with YOU everywhere you go. Why not give YOU a break by developing a good relationship with YOU(r) thinking, feeling, speaking, behaving. The result will be end of unnecessary ‘psychological suffering’. A true break indeed!
This is the 2nd of 4 reflective topics on leadership and emotional intelligence. Our next instalment is on: “Interpersonal relationships”.