I got called out. My pastor responded to something I did by taking up an offense—and as a result, he hurt me very badly. Later, he wrote an e-mail asking me to meet and talk, and I responded with an e-mail telling him where to go and how to get there—-6 pages of shocking directions. It was not difficult to notice, unless you were me: I was emotionally unfit.
What is emotional intelligence? I believe emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and control the emotions of yourself and others. A few years ago, I didn’t just lack emotional intelligence, I lacked the basic knowledge about myself and self-control as well, which made me an ineffective leader that never gained the respect of those I led. Had I known more about myself, I would have been able to effectively apply the principles of emotional intelligence and be a better leader.
The following are the three principles that I believe are the most important to improving emotional intelligence.
Principle 1: Manage your emotions. You can’t spell “emotional intelligence” without emotion. Our society and even our churches have become a place of rushed or hushed emotions. People are not taught how to properly express their emotions—or given the time or ability to be angry, to celebrate, to hurt, to grieve, or to heal. We need to shun any assumption in our communities that does not allow us to fully experience all feelings, including (and especially) grief and loss. When we allow ourselves to feel, we grow in empathy and allow others to see us transparently—which in turn draws them to us. And by understanding our emotions, we can control them—and the emotions of others.
Principle 2: Embrace conflict. Once you’ve learned to control your emotions, conflict becomes more manageable as well. As you grow in self-awareness and accept who God has made you to be, your desires during conflict will shift from self-centered to God-centered. You will choose to work through conflict instead of to bury it. Your new awareness and emotional control will affect how others’ respond in the midst of turmoil. Conflict is a natural and necessary part of life, and to grow emotionally, we must learn to face it head-on with grace.
Principle 3: Enforce boundaries. People with high emotional intelligence understand the importance of guarding their families, their time, and their hearts. Can you say “no” and mean it? Are you making sure your family gets the best of you? Do you put restrictions on your work hours? Edwin Louis Cole said, “Boundaries are to protect life, not to limit pleasures.” Setting appropriate boundaries will shield your life from unnecessary and unwanted difficulties while protecting what’s important.
The question is this: do you want to be right or do you want to be well? Part of being well includes being emotionally healthy and working on those areas where we may still be underdeveloped. Is it time for you to grow up emotionally?
Interested in working on your emotional intelligence and becoming a better leader? Click on “Contact Me” at the top of this page to set up a discovery call with me!