Section A:
How to Cultivate "EQ"
(How to Cultivate "EQ";)
What is the most valuable contribution employees make to their companies, knowledge or judgment? I say judgment. Knowledge, no matter how broad, is useless until it is applied. And application takes judgment, which involves something of a sixth sense — a high performance of the mind.
This raises interesting questions about the best training for today's business people. As Daniel Goleman suggests in his new book, Emotional Intelligence, the latest scientific findings seem to indicate that intelligent but inflexible people don't have the right stuff in an age when the adaptive ability is the key to survival.
In a recent cover story, Time magazine sorted through the current thinking on intelligence and reported, "New brain research suggests that emotions, not IQ, may be the true measure of human intelligence." The basic significance of the emotional intelligence that Time called "EQ" was suggested by management expert Karen Boylston: "Customers are telling businesses, 'I don't care if every member of your staff graduated from Harvard. I will take my business and go where I am understood and treated with respect.'"
If the evolutionary pressures of the marketplace are making EQ, not IQ, the hot ticket for business success, it seems likely that individuals will want to know how to cultivate it. I have a modest proposal: Embrace a highly personal practice aimed at improving these four adaptive skills:
Raising consciousness. I think of this as thinking differently on purpose. It's about noticing what you are feeling and thinking and escaping the conditioned confines of your past. Raise your consciousness by catching yourself in the act of thinking as often as possible. Routinely take note of your emotions and ask if you're facing facts or avoiding them.
Using imagery. This is what you see Olympic ski racers doing before entering the starting gate. With their eyes closed and bodies swaying, they run the course in their minds first, which improves their performance. You can do the same by setting aside time each day to dream with passion about what you want to achieve.
Considering and reconsidering events to choose the most creative response to them. When a Greek philosopher said 2,000 years ago that it isn't events that matter but our opinion of them, this is what he was talking about. Every time something important happens, assign as many interpretations to it as possible, even crazy ones. Then go with the interpretation most supportive of your dreams.
Integrating the perspectives of others. Brain research shows that our view of the world is limited by our genes and the experiences we've had. Learning to incorporate the useful perspectives of others is nothing less than a form of enlarging your senses. The next time someone interprets something differently from you — say, a controversial political event — pause to reflect on the role of life experience and consider it a gift of perception.
The force of habit — literally the established wiring of your brain — will pull you away from practicing these skills. Keep at it, however, because they are based on what we're learning about the mechanisms of the mind.
Within the first six months of life the human brain doubles in capacity; it doubles again by age four and then grows rapidly until we reach sexual maturity. The body has about a hundred billion nerve cells, and every experience triggers a brain response that literally shapes our senses. The mind, we now know, is not confined to the brain but is distributed throughout the body's universe of cells. Yes, we do think with our hearts, brains, muscles, blood and bones.
During a single crucial three-week period during our teenage years, chemical activity in the brain is cut in half. That done, we are "biologically wired" with what one of the nation's leading brain researchers calls our own "world view". He says it is impossible for any two people to see the world exactly alike. So unique is the personal experience that people would understand the world differently.
However, it is not only possible to change your world view, he says, it's actually easier than overcoming a drug habit. But you need a discipline for doing it. Hence, the method recommended here.
No, it's not a curriculum in the sense that an MBA is. But the latest research seems to imply that without the software of emotional maturity and self-knowledge, the hardware of academic training alone is worth less and less.