Entrepreneurs are all about achieving peak performance. The top or quickly emerging entrepreneurs' definition of success goes way beyond just the money they earn or the promotional support they receive. Today’s greats are worried about creating balance: a life that has enough personal time, physical health and good mental support structures. Part of that mind-body connection is tied to your emotional intelligence.
Just what is emotional intelligence? It's the ability to recognize your feelings, objectively observe them and respond accordingly. It’s a proactive mental attitude instead of a reactive or suppressed approach. For example, you bomb an important client meeting. Reactive emotions could cause you to load up on guilt and beat yourself up. Suppressive urges could cause you to bury your disappointed emotions under the surface and cause a lot of stress and anxiety. You can’t ignore feelings forever and be okay.
Processing your emotions in a healthy and rational way that walks the skillful balance of not denying they exist or burying yourself in remorse and negative self-talk is tricky. That’s why many coaches and therapists today focus on developing your emotional intelligence. This development helps provide you with the tools to experience your emotions, but then channel them into productive mental thoughts and attitudes. In its early days of introduction into the cultural awareness, The Harvard Business Review hailed emotional intelligence as “a ground-breaking, paradigm-shattering idea that is one of the most influential business ideas of the decade.” However, emotional intelligence (or EI for short) is no simple feat.
Here are two key factors of emotional intelligence that are crucial to peak performance as an entrepreneur:
You don’t forgive or forget. People mess up in life. We all have things that have happened in our experience that have been painful. Whether it’s the boss that let you go from the last corporate job you had, the client that didn’t renew a contract with you or even a past failed relationship that you can’t let go. When you hold on to the past you rob your brain of the mental ability to focus on the present and plan for the future. As much as you have heard it already, it’s true that forgiveness is the gift you give yourself. Holding on to old grudges and keeping dibs on “the scores” you need to settle is an unhealthy mental attitude.
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, says, “If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
Go far by learning to forgive and forget. Practicing emotional intelligence can get you there.
Realize that failing doesn’t make you a failure. Cognitively, you know this already, but you just had an epic fail and frankly, you aren’t feeling it. You feel like you can’t get off the ground again. Like this failure is the end. This is a natural first reaction to any sort of rejection or failure. Why? The emotional part of the brain reacts faster to an event than the rational side of the brain. It’s leftover survival behavior from our caveman days, but don’t let this primitive mental state keep you in the dumps unnecessarily.
It’s okay to feel bummed out when you fail at something, but if you’re beating yourself up or dwelling in a failed depression for too long, you’re letting your reactive emotions get the better of you. Emotional intelligence isn’t denying feelings or failure. If you’re feeling bad, EI is recognizing, “this feels pretty crummy,” and then allowing yourself to feel bad for a bit, but then move on.
Being able to process your emotions in a healthy way that recognizes when they’re going too far in any direction (repressing or wallowing) is key to reaching peak performance. You’re never going to be successful if you can’t get off the couch and recover every time you fail.