The Power of Optimism – An Emotional Intelligence Tool

The fifteenth and final element of Emotional Intelligence is optimism. Optimism is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and tendency to look at the brighter side of life and to maintain a positive attitude even in the face of adversity.” Optimism gives you hope and enables you to see the future as a positive, inviting place. A positive outlook, faith, and hopefulness are all rooted in optimism.

It is not an easy time to be optimistic, but the good news is that it’s something that we can work on. A lot of people think that you are either born an optimistic person or you’re not, but the research within the EQi would suggest otherwise. We have the ability to shift to become a more optimistic person when we start to get intentional with our actions.

With that being said, I wanted to share three ways to become more optimistic:

  1. If an affiliation with a group or relationship is making you lose hope or motivation, consider pulling back from that commitment and spending less time with that group.
  2. Find an activity that makes you smile and laugh. The physical act of smiling impacts the brain which opens up the possibility for more optimism.
  3. Every morning write down three things you are grateful for. A gratitude journal is one of the best ways to look at the positives in your life.

Stress Tolerance Amidst a Pandemic – An Emotional Intelligence Tool

The fourteenth element of Emotional Intelligence is stress tolerance. Stress tolerance is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “the ability to function well in the midst of challenging and stressful situations – to shoulder stress without getting overwhelmed.” Stress tolerance is rooted in endurance, recovery, health, and resilience. There are many aspects of this pandemic that are incredibly stressful, and having the ability to function in the midst of this stress is crucial.

A high stress tolerance is a necessary element to move through the world that we are currently living in. Almost nothing in this world looks like it used to, so navigating this new reality can often cause stress. A high amount of stress tolerance typically shows up with an ability to alleviate and shoulder stress as well as having the confidence to understand you will be able to get through this. Our confidence can be developed in a variety of ways, but surrounding yourself with positive and uplifting people, can be a great way to lift you out of a stressful situation.

With that being said, I wanted to share three ways we can work on our stress tolerance during this pandemic:

  1. Name, tame, and explain the stressful emotion that you are feeling. Sometimes taking a step back and doing the inner-work to understand where your stress is really coming from can help you develop the confidence to move past it.
  2. Our stress is directly tied to our nutrition, exercise habits, and sleep schedule. Check to make sure that all of these are at an optimal level for you. If they aren’t, begin to identify ways that you can make changes to at least one of them.
  3. When you are starting to feel stressed and anxious, get up from your desk and take a walk. Or, if you’re dealing with a time-sensitive topic, close your eyes and take a couple seconds to just breathe.

The Need for Flexibility in Our Current World – An Emotional Intelligence Tool

The thirteenth element of Emotional Intelligence is flexibility. Flexibility is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and tendency to adjust your emotions, thoughts, and behavior to changing situations and conditions, to adapt – to take in new data and change your mind or approach.” Flexibility is rooted in openness, curiosity, change, and adaptability. Understanding that there are situations where you need to adjust your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors is vital in the current social justice movement.

Those who are inflexible tend to hold firm to their beliefs even when new data is introduced to them. Someone who is flexible is able to change their mind when they are introduced to new data, and they are able to see the world differently when new information is presented to them. Someone who is flexible understands that there may be different sides to an argument and is willing to be open to understanding the other side.

With that being said, I wanted to share three ways we can work on our flexibility during this time:

  1. Actively listen to your colleagues or friends, take in new data and/or a new perspective, and push yourself to change your mind about something.
  2. On an issue where your position is fixed, try to think about at least two other positions that could be possible on the other side of the argument.
  3. Consider how coming curious to a conversation could be benefit you over coming fixed to that conversation. Even if you believe you are correct, explore being curious about other opinions.

Podcast Episode – Peace Of Mind, with Harris Fanaroff

It’s never easy to step away from something that you love…especially when you’ve worked your entire life for it. Harris Fanaroff loved the game of baseball. He was drafted by the Washington Nationals and played D1 baseball for Lehigh University, however during his time in school, Harris lost his passion for the game and decided to step away. Today, Harris credits a lot of his success to the tough decisions that he made early in his journey. He is now a mental performance coach, helping professionals and athletes reach their ultimate potential. He is able to pull lessons from his past experiences to inspire and motivate others to their goals. In this episode we unpack why he made the decisions that he did and what he learned along the way – he even shares some motivational nuggets throughout. You can follow Harris at: Instagram: @harrisfanaroff LinkedIn: Harris Fanaroff

Podcast Episode – https://open.spotify.com/episode/3qyOuaUNM7tYKdnlFXWMXa

5 Questions I’m Asking Myself As A White Male

I wanted to share my thoughts on everything going on with Black Lives Matter & the Race Relations conversations going on in our country right now. I have spent a lot of time on this incredibly important issue and reflecting on what I can do to be better, so I figured I’d share 5 things I’m thinking about with everything going on.

1. What can I do as a white male to make things better? – By being born as a white male I was given a ton of privilege that I often take for granted. I never have to worry about walking around a neighborhood late at night or someone being scared of me just because of the color of my skin. Racism is a white person problem and things will get better from black people AND white people speaking up. It is my job to promote and advocate for policies and leaders that are anti-racist, and speak out when I see racism in action.

2. How can I be more empathetic? – Empathy is our ability and willingness to take notice of and be sensitive to other people’s needs and feelings. The more I can think of others and the emotions they are feeling, the more I can lean into this and make a difference. I’m taking time to listen, learn, and understand what black people are feeling and have been feeling for many, many years. If this turns into a conversation about other groups being discriminated against, we just get further away from making a difference for black people. 

3. How can I push myself to my growth edge?  I shared a picture several days ago on LinkedIn which highlighted phrases we would use when we are pushing ourselves to our growth edge when become an anti-racist. A couple of these statements really stuck out to me – “I sit with my discomfort” “I speak out when I see Racism in action” “I don’t let mistakes deter me from being better” and “I surround myself with others who think & look differently than me.” The last one I feel incredibly passionate about. I am committed to surrounding myself with people that are different from me because I think that is how we will make a difference in this country.

4. How can I educate myself on everything going on? I heard this quote from Brene Brown that really stuck with me, “I’m here to get it right, not to be right.” I’m going to make mistakes when having race relations conversations, but if I get afraid of making mistakes then growth won’t happen. I don’t know all the answers, but I’m committed to learning. I’ve spent a lot of time learning over the last few weeks and here is some of my favorite content: 

5. How can I bring my skills to make this situation better? In addition to my full-time job, I am a Certified Leadership Coach that loves working with athletes on their mental game. I am partnering with a good friend to create a program that helps high performing athletes in underserved communities get access to mental performance training. Additionally, the Nats Youth Academy is an organization I am incredibly passionate about that provides after school programs for underserved youth in DC. I’m having conversations with individuals at that organization about how we can better use my network and young professionals to help this underserved community in DC.

This is what I’m reading/doing/listening to… what are other people reading/doing/listening to? I’d love to hear it!!

Emotional Intelligence – Racial Injustice & Impulse Control

The twelfth element of Emotional Intelligence is impulse control. Impulse control in any situation is important, but impulse control when dealing with something as important as racial injustice, can be vital. Impulse control is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “the ability to resist or delay a drive or temptation to do or say something or to decide too quickly or rashly.” Impulse control is rooted in our restraint, containment, and caution. Having the right amount of impulse control and knowing when to exercise this vs. when to speak out can be the difference between escalating or de-escalating a situation.

As times have changed, I have shifted my weekly blog to focus on the race relations conversations going on in the United States as opposed to the previous articles I wrote on the pandemic. Having a high sense of impulse control means you typically delay your impulses which can lead to more carefully made and better decisions. On the flip side, someone with low impulse control, can come off as making rash decisions with little ability to filter their reactions. There are many times that we need to have a high impulse control, but it’s also important to not over-do impulse control so that we can still show up genuine.

With that being said, if you are someone with low impulse control that wants to work on improving this behavior, I wanted to provide you with three ways:

  1. Before doing an action, take a second to think about the long term implications of that action. What would expressing your thoughts and feelings contribute to the situation or relationship at hand?
  2. If you have a tendency to be the first to jump into a conversation, when someone asks a question, count to ten (silently) to give someone else a chance to respond.
  3. Work to keep your face, body, and gestures from communicating your feelings as someone else is talking.

Emotional Intelligence – Reality Testing & Racial Injustice

The eleventh element of Emotional Intelligence is reality testing. Reality testing during our current climate and increased conversations around race relations is an incredibly important element to focus on. Reality testing is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “the ability and tendency for you to assess the here-and-now reality of any given moment or situation – what is actually going on – and compare that objectively to your fantasy of what is going on, thus avoiding being overcome by fantasies, daydreams, and biases.” Reality testing is rooted in our objectivity, lack of drama & volatility, and rationality.

               There are a ton of emotions involved in conversations going around our country right now, and it’s important for us to be able to assess the here and now reality of what is actually going on. It is easy to rely on our biases or fantasies of what we want the world to be, but in order to be emotionally intelligence, we must be able to move that aside to focus on what is really going on. A high sense of reality testing means you are able to see the world how it actually exists where you routinely sound practical and grounded.

               With being said, I wanted to share three ways we can work on our reality testing:

  1. Make sure your perceptions are correct. Ask at least two other people who experienced a similar event for their feelings on the event, and notice what details are the same. If you’re leaning into a difficult conversation and unclear how it went, ask other people that were involved.
  2. Before making a decision to do something or say something to a group, think about your own biases. Understand that you are looking at the situation with a certain lens, and mention how that lens may be impacting your statement/idea.
  3. When sharing your ideas with a group, check in regularly to say “does that make sense?” or “are we all on the same page?” It can be easy to go down a rabbit-hole of sharing your own ideas that may not be grounded in reality, so it’s important to regularly get feedback on if the idea is making sense to the broader group.

Racial Injustice, Emotional Intelligence & Problem Solving

Black Lives Matter.

I stand with the Black community in my commitment to speaking up against systemic, institutionalized, and internalized racism. There’s a lot of work to be done (especially for non-Black people like myself) and actionable conversations to be had to unwind the harm caused by centuries of racism in the U.S. and beyond. This will not happen in one day, one week, or one month, but it’s a full-time responsibility we have to commit to.

Every week for the past ten weeks I have been writing about Emotional Intelligence and how it relates to the Coronavirus. This week I will continue the trend of writing about Emotional Intelligence, but I have shifted my gear from coronavirus to the much more important issue of racial injustice in our country.

The tenth element of emotional intelligence is problem solving. Problem solving as an element of emotional intelligence can be quite confusing at first. It doesn’t seem like an element that easily fits into emotional intelligence, but it certainly does. Problem solving is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and tendency both to solve problems that involve emotions and to use emotions as an effective problem solving tool.” Problem solving is rooted in collaboration & compromise, engagement, discussion & negotiation, and difficult conversations.

As it should be, coronavirus has taken a back seat to the movement around racial injustice and black lives matter. Our most recent racial injustice reminders – George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Amy Cooper, Omar Jimenez, and many others have shined a spotlight into the horrific and despicable racial injustice going on in our country. There are major problems in this country that involve a ton of emotions, and it is our job as citizens to use those emotions as an effective problem solving tool and go towards the change that we want to see.

I wanted to share three things I’m committing to as it relates to problem solving with emotions and racial injustice:

  1. Step into the difficult conversations and be okay not being comfortable with a certain conversation. We are pushed to our growth edge when we get uncomfortable.
  2. Identify and acknowledge the emotions – both my own and others – when having conversations around racial injustice. Ask myself things like, “where is this emotion of frustration and sadness really coming from?” Do the inner work to understand myself and learn from others.
  3. Research, read, understand, and listen more about racial injustice. The more I can educate myself, the more I can be a strong ally and help our society become better from this incredibly emotional and important issue.  

Contributing to the Greater Good – Social Responsibility & the Coronavirus

The ninth element of emotional intelligence is social responsibility. A lot of people when first getting acquainted with EQi 2.0 model think that social responsibility means doing good related to taking care of the environment, but this isn’t the case. Social responsibility is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and tendency to cooperate and contribute to the welfare of a larger social system, to have and act in accordance with a social consciousness and to show concern for the group of the greater community.” Social responsibility is rooted in caregiving & support, sacrifice, and cooperation.

               Everything going on with the coronavirus requires us to utilize social responsibility. By staying inside, wearing masks, and keeping 6 feet away from other people, we are doing things that contribute to the welfare of the greater good. For some people, this may be really easy and for others, it may be really difficult. Our ability to do these things probably comes down to how we view the importance of social responsibility and our experience in flexing this “muscle.”

               With that being said, I wanted to share three ways we can work on social responsibility during coronavirus:

  1. Initiate a conversation with your team about what the group wants as new norms or collective goals.
  2. Find one group or local business and commit to helping them however you can through this pandemic.
  3. Give in or give up in an argument if you are the one person from preventing the group from having harmony.

Emotional Intelligence & Coronavirus – Leaning into Empathy

The eighth element of emotional intelligence is empathy. Empathy is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and willingness to take notice of and be sensitive to other people’s needs and feelings.” Empathy is rooted in our caring & sensitivity, sympathy, responsiveness, and seeking to understand.

               There has perhaps never been a greater need for empathy than right now as we are all experiencing this pandemic in different ways with differing levels of anxiety. It’s in our best interest to take a step back and understand that each person is entitled to have different feelings and needs related to the coronavirus. Perhaps that person on your team has a family member that is sick with coronavirus, or they are a single parent taking care of 3 kids while also having their full-time job, or they just haven’t been able to see their grandparent or parent in over 2 months – everyone is dealing with something. The more we can be empathetic with other people during this crazy time, the better off we will be as a society.

               With that being said, I wanted to share three ways we can be more empathetic during coronavirus:

  1. Express curiosity for the way someone else is feeling – ask them what they are feeling and pay attention to their reply without judgment.
  2. Pay attention to non-verbal communication – eye contact, gestures, posture, and tone of voice.
  3. Before placing judgment, think of reasons that person may be feeling or acting a certain way.