In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.
Daniel Goleman, in his groundbreaking bestseller – Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, challenged our notion of what it means to be smart.
The emotional center of the brain, Goleman argues, being more primitive, is involved in every thought and in every decision. It is that chamber which flickers into life when you see a movie that moves you, or read a book that inspires you, or listen to music that makes you want to cry. Being enormously powerful, it has the ability to override all rational thinking.
Most of us have had moments when strong emotions like anger had clouded judgment; when anxiety caused distress; when deep grief led to total paralysis. Look into your own life. Your inability to quit smoking even when you have solid reasoning that it is lethal. Your inability to let go of someone who is not meant to be. Your inability to resist getting drawn towards people like AK, for his words touch your heart more than your mind. Little emotions become captain of your lives and you obey them without realizing it.
So intellect, as it appears, comes down to your ability to strike a chord between reason and emotion.
But it is easier said than done. Especially harder for those few who are more emotionally driven. Those who feel deeply. For they seem to be more at risk of getting hurt or swayed away.
So I ask myself: Instead of getting destroyed by these crippling and overwhelming feelings, how can we use them as means to achieve our goals?
The answer is emotional intelligence. Rather than the triumph of heart over head, it is the unique intersection of both. It refers to how we manage ourselves and our relationships, how self-aware we are, how motivated we feel, how we manage distressing feelings, how emphatic we are and how well we tune with others.
The greatest leaders have all used emotional intelligence to achieve their ends. When Martin Luther King presented his dream, he chose language that would stir the hearts of his audience. Hitler spent years analyzing the emotional effects of his body language – the hand gestures and other movements to be a powerful speaker. Most of the world’s tipping points- starting from the birth of nations, the beginning of revolutions, the rise and fall of stock exchanges to the act of falling in love with someone – have not so much to do with logic as emotions.
Moreover, emotions are contagious. Negative emotions more so than positive ones. We are wired to mimic others moods, facial expressions and behavior to reach an emotional agreement. If someone smiles at us, we automatically smile back. If a friend is grieving, we too become sad. The incredible thing is that this reciprocity of emotions is not just limited to individual level; it can be harnessed and magnified into formidable forces. Hitler understood this only too well. That he was a monster can hardly be questioned; the fact that he possessed a kind of mad genius and a keen understanding of how the masses think is equally unquestionable.
In modern world too, emotional tides flow high. The world might look like an immovable, implacable place. Well, it isn’t. With the slightest push- in just the right place – it can be tipped. First, you identify and understand your own emotions, then you learn how to control it – you don’t let it trickle away; you damn it, you develop it, let your mind get drowned in it; and just at the right moment, you unleash it – the tidal wave which spreads the seeds of change – of creation, of innovation and of transformation.
In a primitive sense, we are not so much as creatures of logic as creatures of emotions. By touching emotion, you get the best people to work for you, best clients to inspire you, the best partners and the most loyal of the customers. According to Goleman, in a study of skills that distinguish star performers in every field from entry level jobs to executive positions, the single most important factor was not IQ, advanced degrees, or technical expertise; it was EQ.
Logic is of significant yet finite use. Even to reason effectively, you need emotion. You need to feel the subject you are reasoning for.
To know what you want, you have to have feelings. Stronger your feelings, stronger is the intent.
And stronger the intent, greater the propensity to discover, change and achieve.