I am currently reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradbury and Jean Greaves. It was given to me at the last conference I attended but, being the slow reader that I am, I am only now delving into it. The first few pages struck me as the authors emphasized that emotional intelligence far outweighs IQ in determining success.
Over the past year, I have become fascinated with meta cognition; why and how certain people succeed, why people are happier than others and what makes people exude confidence. This book is well referenced in many corporate climates in the states – some of the strategies mentioned are common sense, some are common knowledge and some really made me think.
How we deal with stress, or more, how we react to stress, reveals a lot about our emotional intelligence. Those of us who are able to respond calmly and productively are often the envy of the rest of us. People who are able to sedate emotional ‘gut’ reactions are able to act more rationally as their responses are void (or minimally tinged) of emotion. Such people are often referred to as ‘cold’ or stand-offish as we are conditioned to believe that every action of ours is influenced by some level of emotional charge.
Stress rears its head in many forms, and not all stress is bad. Stress can provide motivation, a sense of urgency almost, to accomplish a task or meet a deadline. Equally, putting our bodies under stress in the gym is what stimulates muscle and strength growth.
Despite some positive benefits of stress, your immediate reaction to hearing that word probably conjures up an array of negative connotations. The word ‘stress’ is often used to describe chaos, disarray and excessive workload, communicating a need of some relief.
So what causes stress? Pressure. Expectation. Longing. It can be self-imposed or can be the result of external influences. These three triggers share the same negative consequence – failure. Failure to succeed. Failure to deliver. Failure to please. By fearing failure, you are inducing additional stress to whatever task you are undertaking.
Why are you fearing failure?
If the likelihood of you failing is infinitely greater than the likelihood of you succeeding, is it a task that needs to be completed? Doing something that scares you is gratifying and liberating, but doing something where you are constantly fearing failure is the opposite.
Equally as energy zapping is pursuing failure. It is a slippery slope, but convincing yourself that you are going to fail does nothing for you, your self-esteem nor for the task that you are trying to achieve. Approaching events with a pessimistic attitude adds additional stress to an already intense situation.
So how about approaching situations expecting failure? How about establishing a plan to proactively move forward with failure? Doing this will provide a safety net, a cushion, with an objective plan for when you fail. Now, this doesn’t mean that you will fail, but it does mean you are prepared for if you do. Having this reassurance can not only help you feel more comfortable and confident with what you are trying to achieve, but it can also make you realise that, actually, this task or pressure, wasn’t so stressful after all.
We are a couple of weeks into the new year and approaching the most depressing day of the year. Chances are New Year’s Resolutions are wavering, and, despite best intentions, the ‘new year, new you’ hasn’t really materialised. You may be feeling stressed. You haven’t been to the gym like you said you would. You haven’t avoided the Christmas chocolates, (despite moving them into a high cupboard!) You haven’t even opened the book you were determined to be midway through by now. If, however, you made these New Year’s Resolutions with the intention to fail, you probably would have contingency plans set in place, ready for said failure. It isn’t too late! (It’s never too late!)
Now you have come to the realisation that you are expecting failure, you can make a plan to proactively bounce back. Don’t accept that you have failed. By doing that you are making no progress, either in terms of achieving your goal or in terms of altering your mind set. Sedate those gut reactions, improve your emotional intelligence, expect to fail…and watch yourself succeed.