Intelligence and cognitive reasoning is highly valued in our society today. Students are awarded scholarships for their academic success. What about those who might be less brilliant, but more emotionally stable and resilient? Which kind of intelligence matters more over the course of a lifetime?
Studies have shown that your EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) is four times more important than IQ predicting long-term personal and career success. This includes not only financial success, but overall quality of life and the number and degree of close, long-term relationships.
So what is Emotional Intelligence (EI) and why is it so important?
Emotional Intelligence has 4 parts.
- Self-awareness involves being aware of your emotions and yourself. When and how do your emotions affect you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How self-confident are you? What are the emotions motivating you to act in a certain way?
- Self-management is all about managing those emotions. When they surface, how do you handle them? Do they help you or hinder you? How good are you at using or changing destructive emotion into something that will benefit you? How quickly and smoothly do you bounce back from a situation that’s highly emotionally charged?
- Social awareness is the third component of EQ. How empathetic are you? How long does it take you to figure out that someone’s had a bad day? How well do you navigate through office politics. Are you able to see things through the lens of another person and understand where they’re coming from even if you disagree with them?
- Relationship management deals with how you manage relationships with others. Can you inspire a shared vision for a project or improvement? How well do you resolve conflict? How do you develop a team? Collaboration or competition?
I find it frustrating that as important as EI is to the quality of our lives and our relationships we don’t spend more time educating ourselves on it. Beyond Kindergarten’s “Be kind to others” and “Let’s all share the toys,” there’s very little training for the future leaders of our society in understanding their emotions or the emotions of others. In fact, in working with several groups of students this year, it surprised me just how unaware they were of their emotions, the intentions behind them and the environment they created.
Without an awareness of our own emotions, we will manage them poorly and be unable to recognize them in others. The good news is that “… EI competencies are not innate talents, but learned abilities…” according to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, in his book Primal Leadership.
Horses are masters of awareness and they can help us become more aware of our emotions. These lessons translate directly to our relationships in the human world. Once we’re aware of our emotions, we get better at understanding others’. The higher our EQ, the greater chance we have at living effective, fulfilling lives while enriching the lives of others as well. Each of the above competencies is challenged in the arena so that you become aware of where you are now and where you’d like to be. Once you’re aware of the gap, you are able to literally practice your emotional fitness with the Herd. It is powerful feedback.
So, what matters most—IQ or EQ?
There’s no disputing the fact that you must possess a degree of cognitive intelligence in order to understand the technical skills or systems required for your job. However, knowing yourself and being able to understand and empathize with others will take you even further down the path to getting the life you desire. Your IQ may open the door, but it’s your EQ that keeps it open and determines the richness of your journey in the long term.
Have you encountered high or low EQ where you work? I’d love to hear how the experience, whether good or bad, affected you.