One Essential for Cultivating Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman’s seminal work, Emotional Intelligence has made universally recognizable the acronyms EI and EQ (referring to Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Quotient). We all seem to have an intuitive grasp of what these terms mean. When referring to a coworker, boss, or a potential employ, we nod our heads approvingly when someone tells us, “She is one of those people with a high EQ” or shake them in sympathy when we hear, “It’s just that he is completely un self-aware, you know, low EQ.” This capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use that emotional information to guide thinking and behavior is at the core of leadership competency. 

 Today’s inspiration explores the four competencies of EI: self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management, and their connection with the role of mindfulness:

By consistently practicing mindfulnessnot only do individuals develop deeper self-awareness, one of the major tenets of EI, they also develop greater insight into others, into human nature and along with an easing of ego-based concerns, mindfulness encourages a more compassionate concern for others.” Dr. Richie Davidson, neuroscientist, author of The Emotional Life of your Brain and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at UWISC- Madison.

The creator of Google’s Search Inside Yourself program, Chade-Meng Tan, also makes strong the link between EI and mindfulness. Tan wanted to help people find a way to align mindfulness practice with what they wanted to achieve in life, so they can create peace and happiness in themselves, and at the same time create world peace.”  This was predicated on the belief that all empathy and kindness come from cultivating a sense of inner calm, which can be achieved through mindfulness. For Tan the key moment came while reading Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence“I had found my vehicle for aligning meditation with real life, and that vehicle is emotional intelligence. A very good way (and I suspect the only way) to truly develop EI is with contemplative practices starting with Mindfulness Meditation.”

We begin training emotional intelligence by training attention…a strong, stable and perceptive attention affords you calmness and clarity, the foundation on which emotional intelligence is built. Mindfulness is a quality of awareness that is strong both in clarity and stability.  This allows us to perceive emotion with high vividness and resolution.  We can then begin to respond, in the best possible way, to ourselves, to other people and the changing situations of our lives. Being aware and deliberate sure beats reacting in ways that are habitual but don’t really serve us much. In fact, developing emotional intelligence is an ultimately practical endeavor.

And the research is compelling. Research at Harvard and Northeastern have shown that participants in mindfulness training are better able to articulate their emotions and score higher on overall empathy scales than the placebo.  Their conclusion: people who regularly practice mindful meditation can more easily develop the ability to detect and understand the emotions of others. And this greater empathy is circular. The continually flowing loop is from self to others back to self. Knowing yourself lies at the core of EQ, and that the best mental app for this can be found in the mind-training method called mindfulness and meditations that strengthen it.

To enhance your EQ, start with a link to a Three Minute Breathing Space Practice with Zindel Segal, PhD, co-founder of MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy):




Living Authentically: The Genuine You

It is the unique combination of talents, personality and experience that make each of us vital to the whole. We sometimes cover up the “real” us; maybe someone once said we were “a bit too much” when we were little or we’re worried that we won’t be accepted if we show up fully ourselves. Of course, these are just notions that don’t serve any good purpose for us or the world. And while it’s true, that we can’t just let it “all hang out” during a workday, we can show up for work with our most authentic self in place. Read more


“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”- John Dewey

1.Leadership is not simply a title given to those with a supervisory role or hold a job title that sounds leader-like. Leadership is about influencing people and processes in service of accomplishing a collective aim or goal. Such influence can be performed by any member of a group or organization. This notion of leadership is a fundamental state that we can enter and exit when called upon. It’s about focusing on collective needs and goals and influencing the group towards results that benefit the whole. Read more

Minding the Questions

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Much of skillful leadership involves asking great questions…and really wanting to know the answer. Today’s question involves a disciplined awareness and an inquisitiveness on your part:

What’s Needed Most Right Now, at a Time like This?

This is a worthwhile question; worthy of bringing your attention to- a refrain to ask yourself with curiosity from time to time throughout each day. You could choose to even make it a practice. Read more

“Er”, “Um”, “Like”: Mindful vs. Mindless Speech


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I stumbled across a creative and innovative practice this morning that is worth sharing. It incorporates mindfulness into our daily lives in a way that forces us to actually think about what we are saying and how we are saying it. This simple but challenging instruction brings an immediate and positive shift to how we are in the world. Read more


brainThere are lots of ways in which we as human beings can get caught under the vast net of stress in our lives. We oftentimes find ourselves feeling trapped by difficult circumstances and the attending feelings and thoughts that arise from them. All of this can create a sense of being overwhelmed and life at times can appear unmanageable. We then struggle and we suffer. Often times the root cause no longer exists but our coping strategies themselves have become problematic. Read more

10 Simple Ways to Invite Mindfulness into the Present Moment

apples_editMindfulness is not reserved for only those times when you are “formally practicing.” While taking the time to close your eyes and follow your breath, or taking a mindful walk can be enormously helpful,  we can build our awareness by bringing our full attention to our everyday daily activities. These are the tasks that have been so ingrained by repetition , so habitual that they are often times performed on autopilot. It can almost be like we are sleepwalking.  We sometimes don’t even remember doing them! Read more

Practical Applications of Mindful Leadership

artful cairnsMuch of what I do each day entails fostering and facilitating mindfulness training for leaders of industry, academia and healthcare. Many of these leaders have already enjoyed an illustrious track record of success and innovation in their field. And some are just getting started. But wherever they are on their journey, they tend to share certain qualities: a quick mind, high emotional IQ, substantial educational backgrounds and varied and impressive work experience. Rarer still but counted among them are the managers who display true adeptness at leading by example, championing team members’ accomplishments and having a bold vision for their organization. Read more


muse2What about a headpiece to help you to train your brain? As mindfulness continues to gain acceptance as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, it too has become lucrative fodder for inventors and investors who see its potential amidst the big business wellness industry.

Like the Fitbit wristband that measures your movements towards the goal of physical fitness, the latest gadget to help you meditate and improve your focus is called the Muse. At a price tag of about $299, this headband uses electroencephalography sensors to measure the activity of your neurons to detect when your mind is focused and when it’s not. Read more



On certain days and for a variety of reasons, the idea of mindfully sitting for any length of time may evoke a strong sense of aversion. Of course, if this occurs, you always have the option off choosing to be curious about that aversion, working with it, as well as being receptive to any other strong feelings, thoughts and attending sensations that may arise. Read more