Breaking down R.E.A.L: A deep dive into ‘Recognise’
In a recent blog I broke down the key elements of self leadership to ever-so-conveniently fit into one four-letter word: R.E.A.L. It’s short, succinct and easy to remember.
But now it’s time to dive deeper into each of those letters – beginning with R: Recognise.
For me, this element of self leadership stems from emotional intelligence, a concept that first came to light back in 1995 when psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman published a book introducing most of the world to those two words: emotional intelligence. He suggested that the ability to understand and manage emotions to a higher level greatly increases our chances of success – the idea quickly took off and went on to significantly influence the way people think about emotions and human behaviour.
But defining the term is one thing, understanding how it plays out in everyday life is another. So here’s how I see it. People with a high emotional intelligence:
Think about their feelings
Yes, that’s something the majority of us do, but emotional intelligence brings with it a whole new level of being both self-aware and socially-aware. It gives you the ability to recognise emotions in yourself and those around you, and quickly determine the impact they’re likely to make. Somehow I always knew that I was a little different in the way that I think, even from a very young age. But it was only in my adult life that I became aware of it being emotional intelligence – something that has formed the very foundations for me to become a great leader in my chosen career. I lead from the heart and always stay true to my own values, and that of the organisation.
Pause for thought
There are times where we’ve all had to bite our tongue – believe me, growing up with three sisters, each with their own very different personality, can lead to some interesting conversations around the dinner table. But over time I taught myself to take a moment and think before I speak or act, I analyse my mind and ask if this serves me well and do I really need to have an opinion or not? It’s the difference between taking part in a conversation and enjoying it, and turning it into a debate.
Strive to control those thoughts
This one is easier said than done. Because the fact of the matter is you have very little control over the emotion you experience in a given moment – but you can teach yourself to control the way you react to those emotions. Failing to do this makes you a slave to your emotions and that’s a tough place to be in. It’s also one that I’m fairly familiar with. Even as I’m writing this I feel tired and in really difficult times but anxiety levels soar. My husband suffers as a result because my ability to clearly communicate is diminished and there is no one who can help me but myself. I try to go for a long walk, get my body to bed early and allow myself a day or two to truly get myself back into gear. I also focus on my nutrition to fuel my body from within.
Show authenticity and empathy
By now you’ve probably noticed that I’m not one to hold back. I say what I mean, I mean what I say and I hold firm on my values and principles daily. It will come as no surprise that not everyone will appreciate this no-nonsense approach to life – but the key thing to remember is that those who matter most in your world will not only understand it, but love you all the more for it. Just as they will for your ability to demonstrate empathy, something that stems from an ingrained ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of others and using that precious knowledge to form very real and meaningful connections. Empathy doesn’t mean agreeing with the way people see the world, but rather trying to see it through their eyes.
We’re all human – we all crave acknowledgement and appreciation every now and then. So take a moment to pause, look at those around you and focus on their very best traits. That should be simple enough, but it’s the next step that people all too often fail to pursue – tell them. Tell your nearest and dearest what you love most about them, tell your colleagues what you admire about their work ethic, and tell your children how proud you are of what they learnt at school that day. Find the good and shout it from the rooftops. So to live what I preach: Not a day goes by where I’m not grateful for the support that my beautiful husband offers my business, career and our family, I am one of the lucky ones.
Say sorry, and mean it
Those two little words: I’m sorry. Sometimes it’s the most difficult thing on earth to say, it takes strength and courage and makes us feel incredibly vulnerable. But we’re only human, and finding the strength to apologise to someone shows a level of humility that will naturally draw others to you. What’s more, emotional intelligence helps you realise that apologising doesn’t always mean you’ve done wrong. What it does mean is that you prioritise your relationship well above your own ego.
You all know how I feel about this one. It defines me. Helping others sits at the very core of my sense of purpose and fuels me daily – and I find when I show that to the world it has a domino effect. People don’t really care about where you graduated or awards you’ve won – what they do care about is if you’re willing to stop, listen to them, understand what they’re saying and recognise them and their very valid opinions. If you want to build trust and inspire others to follow your lead – get down in the trenches and work alongside them. Believe me, you’ll love every minute of it.