Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Stupidity?
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Posted by: Dr. Alan Zimmerman
Dr. Zimmerman's TUESDAY TIP:
"Once you are in a field, emotional intelligence emerges as a much
stronger predictor of who will be most successful, because it is how we handle
ourselves in our relationships that determines how well we do once we are in a
Daniel Goleman, researcher
Dr. Alan Zimmerman's PERSONAL
A college student spent weeks
studying for a final exam in his zoology class. When he entered the
lecture hall on the day of the test, he saw several pedestals at the front of
the room. There was a partially covered bird cage on each stand, and only
the legs of the bird in each cage were visible. The student chose a seat
in the front row, hoping to get a better view of the subjects once the exam
The professor soon entered the
hall and gave the instructions for the test. The students were to observe
the legs of each bird and then identify its genus, species, common name, and
The student began to panic. There
was no way he could determine anything about the birds by just looking at their
legs. As the time passed, his attempts to complete the exam seemed
futile. Finally, his frustration got the better of him and he marched up
to the professor, slammed his unfinished paper down on the desk, and said,
"This is ridiculous! How could you expect us to know these birds by
looking at their legs? I'm outta here!"
As the student made his way to the
door, the professor noticed that the student's test did not have a name written
on it. "Excuse me," the professor called out.
"What's your name?"
The student pulled up the legs of
his trousers and said, "You tell me!"
Funny? Perhaps. But
all too real. It's another example of messed up communication,
expectations, and human relations which is at the very center of the research
on Emotional Intelligence.
The professor was NOT emotionally
intelligent because he never gave his students a clear understanding of what
was important to learn and what was expected of them. And the student was
NOT emotionally intelligent because he responded in a very inappropriate and
And yet the research is clear.
The people who are most likely to succeed in life, work, and
relationships are the ones who are the smartest emotionally, not necessarily
intellectually. They have a degree of competency in the four areas of
Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness, Self-Control, Social Awareness, and
Relationship Management. Let's dig a little deeper into those first two areas.
1. Self-Awareness = Do you
know WHAT you want?
Some people never quite figure
that out. They just live their lives on auto pilot and don't bother with
what they call "silly, touchy-feely, psycho-babble."
Well, it's not silly. As
Chuck Palahniuk points out, "If you don't know what you want, you end up
with a lot you don't." And an African proverb states, "Chance
comes to those who know what they want."
Florence Barker certainly
demonstrated a clear sense of self-awareness. She walked into my seminar at the
age of 82, weighing about 90 pounds, and using a cane. When I asked what
she was doing in my program on Emotional Intelligence, she said she wanted to
put more adventure in her life. I didn't know what that meant to Florence.
Nonetheless, I presented the
program, asking the participants to focus on the risks they needed to take to
get more of what they wanted out of life. I then asked each person to write
down all the risks they would take after the seminar. When I asked each
person to speak out their number one risk on their lists, Florence
enthusiastically said her risk was "to learn to drive an 18-wheeler, a
semi-truck, and drive across the country."
I thought she was a bit senile and
didn't give her much more thought, but I did think, "God bless her.
At least she knows what she wants." And that is the first step
towards greater Emotional Intelligence.
With that in place, you need to go
2. Self-Control = Do you
know HOW to get what you want?
Lots of people don't. Some
people lack the Process and other people lack the Passion. I'll address
both issues in greater detail in my upcoming book, "The Payoff
Principle." And both are important, of course.
The dancer, Roselyn Pador Isada
Alovera talked about the Process when she said, "Success means something
different to each one of us, but it comes to those who are willing to work hard
and who continue to be dedicated to making their dreams come true."
And Page Smith talked about the
Passion when she wrote, "The future is given shape by our faith, or
condemned to drift and disaster by our indifference."
But let me take you back to the
rest of Florence Barker's story. She knew what she wanted, but did she
have the Emotional Intelligence to get what she wanted? You decide.
A year after my program, I received a newspaper clipping and a letter
from Florence. Here she was driving an 18-wheeler. She had taken some
truck-driving training at a local vocational school, found an over-the-road
truck driver, and asked if she could join him, and there she went.
For ten years in my programs I
shared the story of Florence. Then two years ago I was back in the city
where I first met her, giving a keynote address to a thousand people. I
shared her story once again, saying I didn't know if she was alive or not, but
she had inspired me for years. Someone in the audience said, "Yes,
Florence is still in town, 92, and doing great!"
After the program, someone told
Florence I was talking about her across the country. She wrote me a great
letter afterwards, but the two key sentences were these. She wrote, "At
age 92, I've come to the conclusion that those folks who are not trying new
things are either physically incapable or just plain stupid." But
her second line was even better. She said, "I'm now into hang
gliding but my kids are objecting."
You can't help but respect people
like that ... with the Emotional Intelligence to know what they want and get
what they want.
What about you?
Do you know what you really,
Really, REALLY want? If so, great. If not, what are you going to do
about your lack of Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness?
and Respond Online
About the author:
As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional
speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman is focused on "transforming the people side of
business.” His keynotes and seminars are noted for high content, high energy,
and high involvement that transform people's lives and the companies where they
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