Around this time of year, the gym’s and fitness centre’s that were packed to the walls in early January begin to thin out. Resolutions made become resolutions broken, and the dream of whatever the goal was back on the first day of the New Year becomes a fading memory.
Unfortunately, many people’s approach to developing emotional intelligence falls prey to the same cycle. Enthusiasm for developing EQ generated by reading a book or going to a workshop wanes after a short while, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In the same way that someone who is truly committed to reaching their fitness goals can get there, so too can you reach your EQ goals. And, interestingly, we can learn a great deal about EQ development from the processes used in the local gym.
First, you wouldn’t show up at the gym, start randomly doing exercises, and expect to see great results. To maximize the workout you need to first take a baseline of your fitness, then figure out what your goals are. After that you can create a structured plan to work towards those goals.
So it is with developing emotional intelligence. The most effective way of developing emotional intelligence is to get as baseline of your EQ using a tool like the EQ-I, or even better the EQ360. Then, using the EQ-I 2.0 model of emotional intelligence you can put together a plan to develop in those areas you want to work on.
The plan you put together, with the help of someone experienced in creating such plans, will ensure that you don’t develop one area of your body without also paying attention to the others. You wouldn’t want huge arms and skinny legs, or vice-versa. Again, the same is true of developing EQ. You wouldn’t, for example, want to develop a too high level of Assertiveness without also developing your Empathy. Balance is important and a coach who is qualified to support you in developing your EQ understands the best way to do that.
After that, as with the gym, your success will depend on how committed you can stay to the plan. Buying a gym membership but only going once a month will not yield any appreciable results. Creating and sticking to a plan for developing your emotional intelligence will generate significant results over time. But, as with the gym, you will do better to do more repetitions with smaller weights, and increase gradually, than trying to push too hard too fast. Similarly, you will see better results for your EQ development by committing to small, doable steps than by making massive changes in your behavior which may not be necessary, and are even less likely to stick.
When it comes to EQ development my motto is ‘Start Small, Stay Small, Get Big’.