As an entrepreneur, what does it take to be emotionally intelligent?

I’m curious about why your question is specific to entrepreneurs. The process for cultivating emotional intelligence is universal, regardless of the hats one wears. And it’s far beyond the scope of this response to give a step-by-step process for developing emotional intelligence. The important questions, as I see it, are:

  • What is emotional intelligence?
  • Why care about it?

Emotional intelligence starts with becoming aware of your emotions in the moment they arise – the “good” ones like love, compassion, intimacy, as well as the “bad” ones like shame, grief, fear, anger.

I think of this dualistic world we live in as a pendulum. The pendulum can only swing as far to the right as it does to the left.

One can only appreciate light to the extent they embrace darkness. Sunshine and clouds. Wet and dry. Hot and cold. And a million others, including emotions. If we numb ourselves to negative emotions, we can only scratch the surface of positive ones.

Whether or not we give attention to our emotions, they don’t go away. They’re just buried; and their energy remains stuck in our bodies till one day they just blow – often expressed in the extreme – like raging, bouts of deep depression, feelings of overwhelm, or illogical crying jags.

About those entrepreneurs.

An entrepreneur wears a lot of hats simultaneously. Overwhelm, frustration, anxiety and stress can result from all that a solopreneur must take on, or the challenges associated with staffing and profitability for larger ventures.

Part of one’s emotional evolution is cultivating resilience to help emotionally prepare for those situations, be more steady when they arise, and to move through them back to more stable (read: productive) ground.

The HeartMath Institute has found in its depth studies and clinical research that people who suppress their emotions are considerably more prone to depression, illness, chronic disease, and premature death. Hence one major psychophysiological benefit of cultivating emotional maturity. They have also found that emotionally mature people are naturally more capable of developing more productive, meaningful and intimate relationships. This is a key skill for successful entrepreneurs.

I hope this response was useful to you.


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