Most of us go about life focussing on our own problems, our own goals and our own happiness. While this way of thinking is rather natural for most human beings, people with superior emotional intelligence seem to centre their thoughts on others and the bigger picture of life. Peter Stark puts it rather starkly when he says “Emotional Intelligence is when you finally realise, it’s not all about you!”
The possession of qualities like empathy and balance is an essentiality if one is to find and retain that elusive inner peace. And clearly it is the individual who retains that calm in the face of turbulent times, who finally wins the battle of life.
Daniel Goleman, the guru of emotional intelligence, declared that social skills-managing relationships and building rapport with others- are vital to our effectiveness. He declared that emotional intelligence is a much more likely predictor of success than IQ.
A recent crisis situation at a local high school tested the leadership qualities of the principal in no uncertain terms. Three of the dozen students who’d gone trekking to the faraway hills were missing and their phones were inaccessible. The local police had swung into action but the parents of the children were worried to the extreme, as there was no news of their wards.
The principal could gauge that the situation was about to explode, as tempers were rising in her room, and understandably so. She held her calm though, and through her own sensible words and deeds, by being quietly effective, she was able to instil in the parents a sense of belief.
And when the much awaited call came, late into the night, the room erupted in joy. The young ones had been found, and were hale and hearty. And one of the parents was effusive in her gratitude.
“Ma’am it was you who gave us the confidence to have faith in the face of uncertainty!”
Leaders, who are able to transmit that quiet confidence into their team, and maintain a solid unshakeable demeanour, are more than likely to win all round praise. A shaky ‘sheikh’ may not make for a natural captain, whereas a humane and cheerful boss is always the crowd favourite.
“When we focus on others, our world expands”, states Goleman.
The quality of our interactions with others-our people skills- become important, particularly in a largely automated world. With lifestyles being dominated increasingly by technology, most people find it difficult to interact effectively with human beings, although they are very adept at handling gadgets!
Mike Brearley, former England skipper, was said to have a ‘degree in people’ and thus played and won far more Test matches than he would have on batting merit alone. His ability to extract the best from temperamental geniuses like Ian Botham meant that England was able to win 17 Test Matches and lost only 4 under his stewardship.
Successful people have the emotional intelligence to understand that life is not about self-centredness but demands an ability and willingness to appreciate others and retain their calmness in all situations.
A brilliant techie would thus do well to look around and enhance his understanding of human situations, by raising the levels of his connectivity with not-so-skilled others. A scientist who excels at robotics, for example, must also possess the pizzazz to raise his hand when able bodied individuals are needed in an emergency like a road accident.
That hazy and unfathomable goal of ‘success’ becomes clearer to the person who smells the earth after the rains and realises that he may never feel as happy as he just did, even if he accumulates all the wealth and fame that the world has to offer.
Test tubes or mathematical units cannot be used to measure success anyway. The quantum of success is unidentifiable. Even public acclaim cannot be a concrete parameter, so fleeting it is. We may feel successful and content at having achieved only moderate goals in life, or totally dissatisfied despite having conquered the world.
Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the Autobiography of a Yogi, has the last word. “It is what you have attained within that determines your success”