The shock factor:
Finding the emotional intelligence to leave your comfort zone.
I often remind the business executives I talk to that the future lies outside their comfort zone – that they won’t get to new levels by playing it safe and sticking with what they know.
One way of making sure you don’t stay in your comfort zone is to shock yourself.
I know that’s more easily said than done. After all, shock is not, by definition, a comfortable or enjoyable emotion.
But it is something we can deal with by developing our level of emotional intelligence (or emotional quotient, EQ) – that is, our ability to identify and manage our own emotions and our reaction to the emotions of those around us.
Your EQ, according to Dr Travis Bradberry* (author of the successful book Emotional Intelligence 2.0), is responsible for 58 per cent of your job performance, and 90 per cent of the top business performers have it in spades.
Building emotional intelligence is not necessarily something we prioritise in our day-to-day working lives, but it can make a big difference to how we function in a high-pressure environment.
Executives with high EQ tend to be able to take the necessary risks under pressure because, as Dr Bradberry points out, they have open minds, are good listeners and are realistic about the truth.
They know they can deal with any fall-out or criticism and that, if they do make a mistake, they are prepared to own it and apologise.
Emotional intelligence is a broad and ever-developing area, and one we could explore endlessly. But let’s stick with our “shock factor” here.
The shock you give yourself does not have to be anything shattering. Maybe it’s more like a surprise.
At the most basic level, I tried this myself in a recent presentation to a leadership summit for women in finance and accounting.
Thinking about what I had to offer, I asked myself, “So what?”, which can be a very uncomfortable question to ask ourselves. I also challenged the audience members to ask the same question of themselves.
And then I waited for what I was worried might be an indifferent or reluctant response. (These are the moments when you wonder why you put yourself in these situations, when you could so easily have stayed in a safe zone.)
Instead, to my surprise, a lively conversation ensued, with the participants engaged and willing to share their thoughts.
I have also shocked myself in presentations in the past by posting up my personal “vision board” for the world to see. I never thought I’d put myself out there like that, but it has helped me make a surprising connection with audiences.
In the same way, I’d encourage others to perhaps shock themselves by blowing their own trumpet. Not in an obnoxious way, of course, but by speaking up about what you have achieved and what you hope to achieve (your ambitions) rather than hoping others will notice without you pointing it out.
One of the key elements of emotional intelligence is recognising that others’ emotions are not usually a response to you, but to something going on within themselves. Once we accept that people are more worried about themselves than about us, speaking up for ourselves becomes more of a necessity than a shocking self-indulgence.
*Learn more about what Dr Travis Bradberry has to say about emotional intelligence here. Include link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M50uzumyYlM