Let’s talk about emotional intelligence. You’ve probably heard your friend or coworker use this term before but never actually knew what it meant. If that’s the case, keep reading, as this blog post will provide you with all the beginner’s knowledge on EQ you need.
West Point Military Academy in New York has a program called “Beast,” a rigorous set of extreme physical, mental, and social challenges designed to test cadet’s perseverance. It is also responsible for the school’s high drop our rate of 20%; that is one in five students doesn’t make it to graduation. Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted an extensive study on West Point students and the characteristics they exhibit that could potentially predict which cadets succeed and do end up conquering the Beast test. As a result of her study, she devised what she calls a “grit scale”, a test that measures mental strength by looking at factors such as passion, tenacity, and stamina. All of these combined, she claims, allow individuals to pursue and stick with their goals until achieved. Her infamous grit test turned out to be a highly accurate predictor of success.
Angela Duckworth also gained massive popularity after her TED Talk, “The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” went viral. With over 9 million views, her speech told the story of how she left a high-paying job in consulting to teach seventh-grade math in a New York public school that led her to her amazing discovery – IQ wasn’t the only thing separating successful students from those who struggled. Similar to West Point students, it was grit.
Turns out, your level of grit, or mental strength, or emotional intelligence, however you want to call it, is highly predictive of your success, not only in personal relationships, but also in professional relationships, career development, and even physical health. Mental strength is about that perseverance quality which, in turn, forms habits. Here are some of key habits and behaviors observed in emotionally strong people, as told by TalentSmart*.
- Fighting when feeling defeated
A reporter once asked Muhammad Ali how many sit-ups he does every day. He responded, “I don’t count my sit-ups, I only start counting when it starts hurting, when I feel pain, cause that’s when it really matters.” The same applies to success in the workplace. You always have two choices when things begin to get tough: you can either overcome an obstacle and grow in the process or let it beat you. Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through a challenge, the strength begins to grow in you.
- Delaying gratification
There was a famous Stanford experiment in which an administrator left a child in a room with a marshmallow for 15 minutes. Before leaving, the experimenter told the child that she was welcome to eat it, but if she waited until he returned without eating it, she would get a second marshmallow. The children that were able to wait until the experimenter returned experienced better outcomes in life, including higher SAT scores, greater career success, and even lower body mass indexes. The point is that delay of gratification and patience are essential to success. People with mental strength know that results only materialize when you put in the time and forego instant gratification.
- Making mistakes and continuously trying
In a recent study at the College of William and Mary, researchers interviewed over 800 entrepreneurs and found that the most successful among them tend to have two critical things in common: they’re terrible at imagining failure and they tend not to care what other people think of them. In other words, the most successful entrepreneurs put no time or energy into stressing about their failures as they see failure as a small and necessary step in the process of reaching their goals.
- Keeping your emotions in check
Negative emotions challenge your mental strength every step of the way. While it’s impossible not to feel your emotions, it’s completely under your power to manage them effectively and to keep yourself in control of them. When you let your emotions overtake your ability to think clearly, it’s easy to lose your resolve. A bad mood can make you lash out or stray from your chosen direction just as easily as a good mood can make you overconfident and impulsive.
- Making the calls you’re afraid to make
Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do because we know they’re for the best in the long-run: fire someone, cold-call a stranger, pull an all-nighter to get the company server back up, or scrap a project and start over. It’s easy to let the looming challenge paralyze you, but the most successful people know that in these moments, the best thing they can do is to get started right away. Every moment spent dreading the task subtracts time and energy from actually getting it done. People that learn to habitually make the tough calls stand out like flamingos in a flock of seagulls.
- Trusting your gut
There’s a fine line between trusting your gut and being impulsive. Trusting your gut is a matter of looking at decisions from every possible angle, and when the facts don’t present a clear alternative, you believe in your ability to make the right decision; you go with what looks and feels right.
- Leading when no one else follows
It’s easy to set a direction and to believe in yourself when you have support, but the true test of strength is how well you maintain your resolve when nobody else believes in what you’re doing. People with mental strength believe in themselves no matter what, and they stay the course until they win people over to their ways of thinking.
- Focusing on the smallest details even when it makes your mind numb
Nothing tests your mental strength like mind-numbing details, especially when you’re tired. The more people with mental strength are challenged, the more they dig in and welcome that challenge, and numbers and details are no exception to this.
- Being kind to people who are rude to you
When people treat you poorly, it’s tempting to stoop to their level and return the favor.
People with mental strength don’t allow others to walk all over them, but that doesn’t mean they’re rude to them, either. Instead, they treat rude and cruel people with the same kindness they extend to everyone else because they don’t allow another person’s negativity to bring them down.
- Being accountable for your actions, no matter what
People are far more likely to remember how you dealt with a problem than they are to recall how you created it in the first place. By holding yourself accountable, even when making excuses is an option, you show that you care about results more than your image or ego.
In summary, grit, as coined by Angela Duckwroth, is made up of passion, tenacity, and stamina. Typically, emotionally mature individuals persevere and always keep going towards achieving their realistically set goals. They also realize that it is a long-term commitment and that mistakes as well as meticulous and sometimes tedious work are just part of the deal. Emotionally intelligent people try to stay calm and keep their emotions under control, even if it requires being nice to a person who isn’t so nice to you. They trust their intuition and always always believe in themselves. Lastly, mentally strong individuals account for their actions. Want to see what your EQ is? Take Angela’s grit test!
*TalentSmart is the world’s provider of emotional intelligence (EQ) products and services. You can view more at talentsmart.com
Read the original TalentSmart article here.
Written by: Aliya Serikpayeva