Category Archives: EI

“That’s not me”

“That’s not me. That’s not who I am.” “That’s not us. That’s not who we are.” This is an element of a very common public apology. I guarantee you’ll hear it sometime in the news in the next few weeks. Someone famous does something stupid, or not as well as they would like and that sentence gets inserted. It’s also what we tell ourselves when we do something stupid, something we regret, something that is less than wonderful. It also often shows up when failure does. If not you, then who? Actually, that IS you. And that is that public person that did something they don’t recognize once the smoke has cleared. That is the team that froze in the spotlight. And that realization can hit to the core – a real self-identity quake. That is a sign of a full-blown amygdala hijack. The fight/flight/fear part of the brain decided it was in danger and took over the driver’s seat, shoving the frontal cortex into the backseat. Or it’s a sign that your brain isn’t yet fully formed. Our brains don’t get to full maturity until our mid-twenties, which is why so many kids do so many amazingly stupid things, like tweeting racist tweets if you’re going to be a top-five NFL draft pick. But if you’re an adult and you do something, it’s you. It’s really you. It happens inside your brain. It’s your lower impulses trying to keep you safe. It doesn’t care about damages incurred. So you can either deny it’s you. Or you can get humble and fully own it. Owning it is the only place where learning can happen. You get to learn what you do when the amygdala hijacks your smarts. You learn what triggers the amygdala. You learn the effect the amygdala aftermath has on what you care about. And you learn what’s important long-term that you can recommit to. These are very, very important pieces of knowledge. If you’re brave enough to be humble, that IS you. That IS me. That IS us. It’s okay, it’s going to happen and keep happening. And never forget that even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment we always have a choice. We can tear what we love apart or listen to the better angels of our nature. I vote for the angels. “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” – Abraham Lincoln (part of his 1861 Inaugural Address)

Also posted in Purpose | Comments closed

Giving Voice to Joy: The Antidote to Fear

“Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all. We have heard, perhaps, too much of lesser matters. Here is the door. Here is the open air.” -Robert Louis Stevenson In these often scary times, we have an alternative to the fear that inevitably arises – an antidote. When it seems or feels like things in life, the good things in life, are getting scarcer and more uncertain, to defeat that scarcity, the smallness inside and out, the antidote is to give, and to give freely – to give joy to yourself and those around you, and to give to joy. Now is a wonderful time to see clearly how richly and deeply the natural world gives to us. As the birds sing and make their nests, and the flowers bloom, and the leaves open on the trees, and the sky is clear and blue, and the warm sun lights up our faces and bathes us in warmth, we’re better able to see how simply beautiful being alive can be. And we can see how effortlessly and simply the world gives to us all of the simple joys that we need to lighten our loads. The challenge and the way through any moment when you are scared is the courage of giving freely and trusting that that giving frees up the river that flows both ways. It may be helpful to remember that this giving is a natural part of our life. Each moment we give away a breath and take in a new one again. Everything we own, every gift and natural ability we possess has been given to us. The Chinese sage Lao Tsu said, “If you want to be given everything, give everything up.” Research tells us that that happiness travels from person to person farther and longer than sadness does. Give voice to your joy and watch it travel. May you find the strength to courageously give voice to your joy, give your best to the world and notice as it gives its best to you. Learn more: Emotional Intelligence Works  – EQ is twice as important in contributing to excellence as IQ and expertise combined. Learn how to effectively manage your emotions and those around you for sustained success.

Posted in EI | Comments closed

The scariest and most effective thing your team can do

When you’re too busy and the work demands you speed up, slow down. When the same way you’ve always done things is no longer working, don’t keep doing it but faster. Stop. The pause is laughed at/feared. It’s viewed as unrealistic. Yet it’s the pause, and only the pause that gets most teams to the next level. Pausing in the middle of ‘working stupid’ (and if we’re stressed we’re working stupid) gives us the only opportunity to ‘work smart’. Our brains literally function better with a pause. We access the cortex – our smarts – instead of being driven by the amygdala to just speed up today’s treadmill. It’s energy that gets the work done, not time. Time is created equal, but not energy. Energy comes and goes and “we hate one another” does not help energy. Nor does “barking orders”. If you’re too busy to have an agenda for a meeting that you get to people before the meeting, I’m here to tell you you’re too busy to have that meeting. Cancel it and do something productive like going for a walk.

Also posted in Team Building | Comments closed

Owls, Caves, Curiosity and Delight

The trail is two miles in, starting from the ocean. It’s a mix of limestone and old coral reef under foot with dense, dry coastal forest crowding in. It’s our first day exploring Parque Nacional Del Este in the Dominican Republic. We reach the hole in the ground that marks Cueva Del Puente (cave of the bridge). We’re the only people we’ve seen so far in the park and it’s just us and the darkness in the cave. It’s bigger than either of us think it was going to be, and rooms open up into larger rooms until we hit the end of the line – a large room with enormous trees growing up from the cave floor and down from the forest floor above, bright sunlight and birdsong mixing with the cool, quiet cave. We see a movement come from a dark corner and then an ashy-faced owl lands on one of the tree branches in the cave. For the next 20 minutes we sit watching each other, its curiosity and our delight meeting each other, moving me deeply. Curiosity, delight. No curiosity, no delight. Who doesn’t want delight? And who doesn’t love curiosity? Delight + curiosity = play. Our old lizard brain, the amygdala, doesn’t want curiosity. It wants certainty. Certainty allows for decisive action. When faced with immediate physical threats, it helps to not be too curious and take action instead. Does the saber-tooth tiger want to be friends or eat me? The problem is that the amygdala can’t discern between literal and emotional threats. So, that nasty email you just received triggers your amygdala the same way a car heading straight at you in an intersection triggers it. Both move you away from curiosity and into certainty. Certainty is where modern political discourse lives, where comments on online articles live – delight-free wastelands. But if we want to connect, to be thrilled and delighted, curiosity is the path. If we want to connect to our work, to our co-workers, to our loved ones, if we want to experience delight, first we calm the amygdala – pause, breath, appreciate something – and allow for the unknown.

Also posted in Nature, Play | Comments closed

The Gift of Giving

Vincent Van Gogh said, “How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?” There are 1.5 million charitable organizations in the US; there are 86,400 seconds in a day, and an infinite number of possible answers if we ask ourselves Van Gogh’s beautiful question. How best can we serve? What can we give? When contemplating giving, it’s helpful to expand the horizons of what we may imagine giving to mean. Of course it includes formal giving, whether volunteering or philanthropy. But it also includes the countless opportunities each day (Hence the 86,400 seconds in a day statistic) we have to give informally to the people we know around us, give to ourselves and of ourselves, and to people and things in the larger world that we don’t know. We each have unique gifts and myriad opportunities to use and give them. The field of Emotional Intelligence tells us that emotions are contagious, so even each emotion we feel and express is a form of a gift. Giving is something we can do every day. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s charity-based team building activities: Charity Bike Build – As featured on NPR! Teams build bicycles for underserved children in their area. Charity Wheelchair Build – Charity Wheelchair Build gets your team building wheelchairs to help disabled people stay independent in this charity team building activity. Pack to School – Fill backpacks for kids in this fun charity team building activity.

Also posted in Purpose | Comments closed

On the Road At Home

I recently returned from a lovely camping trip in the Guadalupe National Mountains National Park in west Texas. This little-used park is simply stunning. It’s the northernmost tip of the Chihuahuan Desert, where the desert ends and skies up into mountain peaks. The hiking was fabulous, and nature worked its wonderful magic tricks on me as usual. I’m sure I’ll be writing about it in my blog. But in this moment I’d like to draw your attention to the other people I met also camping. All came from different walks of life, different locations in North America and were in different stages of their life journey. However everyone shared something refreshing qualities. They had very little with them. They were on fairly open-ended journeys. They had a plan but weren’t tied to it. They met my gaze. They had easy smiles. They were curious…about me, about life. They were happy to talk about their life on the road and share stories. And they were in no way oppressed by time. None were itching to stop talking with me in order to do something pressing. I had the feeling – usually confirmed – that I would need to be the one to end the conversation. I came away from the conversation energized, a little happier and a little more excited about life. This is a strange and wonderful breed of humanity, right? Actually, that’s you. And that’s me…at our best, whether on the road or at home. If your experience of the people around you today is nothing like the above paragraph, you have an opportunity to be the change you’d love to see. You can be “on the road at home”. If today’s life feels a little too tight, take a purpose pause. And feel that lovely spring energy traveling through you, easing and opening anything constricted for you. Happy travels…on the road and at home!   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities:  Emotional Intelligence Works – EQ is twice as important in contributing to excellence as IQ and expertise combined. Learn how to effectively manage your emotions and those around you for sustained success.

Also posted in Nature, Purpose | Comments closed

Which Intelligence is More Important, the First or Second? (Costa Rica Tales)

I traveled recently in Costa Rica, trying to navigate public transit and shopping for food in a Spanish speaking country. I last studied Spanish over a decade ago. So this was a chance to try out both intelligences. The Persian poet Rumi says the first intelligence is, “one acquired, as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts from books and from what the teacher says.” The other one? “This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out… one already completed and preserved inside you. A spring overflowing its springbox.” The first intelligence wanted to get busy fast, learning and relearning as much Spanish as possible. That was helpful. However, when the time came to use it, when someone spoke impossibly fast to me, the first intelligence tightened up and froze. It took a conscious effort to switch to second intelligence mode, to allow imperfection and even failure in as part of the process. The second intelligence was more relaxed, more interested in the unique moment than success. Real smiles came more easily on both sides, curiosity bloomed. And some dormant knowledge of Spanish loosened up – not always but definitely sometimes. This process happened again and again, day after day. Every time the message was reinforced. The second intelligence is by far more important, more helpful, more enjoyable. The first intelligence is useful and even necessary at certain points, but it’s there to help the second intelligence do its job. The second intelligence needs to be the parent, the boss, in the driver’s seat. When you’re in a moment of uncertainty, stress or trial in your day, play with having the two intelligences respond to the same situation. Which one is more helpful for you?   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: Emotional Intelligence Works – EQ is twice as important in contributing to excellence as IQ and expertise combined. Learn how to effectively manage your emotions and those around you for sustained success. StrengthsFinder – Gallup’s online assessment of unique top five strengths. Learn your team’s strengths and learn how to put them into action. Strengths At Work – Gallup research says less than 20 percent of us have the opportunity to do what we do best everyday. Learn how to put your strengths in play for consistent, near-perfect performance.

Also posted in Passion, Positive Psychology, Strengths | Comments closed

Rumi and the Second Intelligence

Rumi and the Second Intelligence, that sounds like an 80s band doesn’t it? I spent the last month focusing on what the poet Rumi calls the ‘second knowing’. I’m familiar all my life with the first intelligence – the one that gathers and acquires, the IQ workout. But “this other intelligence” is one that I am spottier at paying attention to. We all are. Rumi says: There is another kind of tablet, one already completed and preserved inside you. A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness in the center of the chest. This other intelligence does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid, and it doesn’t move from outside to inside through conduits of plumbing-learning. This can blow the first intelligence mind. Wait, it’s done already? We’re also culturally taught not to trust ourselves. Instead trust the rule of the family, the tribe, the government, the corporation. Yet here we are. When we read those words, at least for me, they ring deeply true. That spring that is often covered with the world’s detritus gets cleared out in this moment and we can see our own fresh fluidity, our natural inner wisdom. We can use other words for this. I call it “passion” in At Your Best. Positive Psychology calls this flow. StrengthsFinder calls these talents and strengths. Emotional Intelligence calls this the neocortex. Poets call this the heart. This powerful force wipes away uncertainty, waffling. This is a knowing. And it inspires and engenders trust in one’s self. Nothing needs to be put in, acquired. It’s already there:  This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out. We are so powerful, well beyond our knowing. We hide it well, it can seem safer that way. But as Robert Frost wrote, “So all who hide too well away, Must speak and tell us where they are.” What’s the wisdom your clear flowing internal spring is ready to give you today? What new trust can grow from you listening to the ever-present fountainhead inside?   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: StrengthsFinder – Gallup’s online assessment of unique top five strengths. Learn your team’s strengths and learn how to put them into action. Emotional Intelligence Works – EQ is twice as important in contributing to excellence as IQ and expertise combined. Learn how to effectively manage your emotions and those around you for sustained success. Strengths At Work – Gallup research says less than 20 percent of us have the opportunity to do what we do best everyday. Learn how to put your strengths in play for consistent, near-perfect performance.

Also posted in Passion, Positive Psychology, Strengths | Comments closed

Amygdala or Neocortex? Fear or Love? Which Path is the First Intelligence Taking?

The first intelligence is, according to the Persian poet Rumi, the “one acquired, as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts from books and from what the teacher says…you stroll with this intelligence in and out of fields of knowledge.” As with so many potentially helpful things, how you use it is more important than what you use it for. By how I mean: what’s the intent behind it? Here’s an example from when I was preparing to travel in Costa Rica. There was an element of fear and anxiety as I attempted to cram Spanish in, hoping to stay safe by preparing more fully. The how here is from fear. The amygdala in my brain was in charge, working hard to stay safe and avert potential disaster. This is fear-based first intelligence. It’s a sad place to be – we’ll never prepare enough to satisfy the amygdala. We’re not ever going to be perfect enough. The day after I landed I had a four bus ride to get to Cahuita, on the coast. I listened to Spanish lessons for several hours of that ride, dreamily staring out of the window as fresh and new landscape unfolded. I was relaxed, my amygdala was relaxed – it knew I was safe for a few hours. My neocortex perked up, the part of my brain that is interested in happiness and connection. It was excited to learn Spanish! And it didn’t care what kind of progress was made, it just felt like exploring. That’s love of something showing up. The same Spanish lessons, two very different internal environments, two very different first intelligence experiences. Fear or love – two different paths through the same territory. I’ll take love!     Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: Emotional Intelligence Works – EQ is twice as important in contributing to excellence as IQ and expertise combined. Learn how to effectively manage your emotions and those around you for sustained success.

Also posted in Happiness, Training | Comments closed

How To Enjoy What You’re Doing

Slow down. It’s that simple. And that difficult! We can feel lost and overwhelmed while doing something for a variety of reasons. It may be the task itself that seems distasteful. Or it may be that the amygdala, the fearful part of the mind, is already chewing on all the things that need to be done next, robbing you of the pleasure of this moment. It’s as easy, simple and difficult as pausing and slowing down. There will be a moment where the amygdala starts screaming like the angry little kid it is, but then when nothing happens, it’ll get frustrated and stalk off. This leaves you alone to savor and even enjoy this moment, the only one that counts. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: Resiliency: Five Keys to Success – Leverage the five principles of resiliency – engagement, efficiency, endurance, flexibility, and loving the game – for peak work performance and enjoyment. Emotional Intelligence Works – EQ is twice as important in contributing to excellence as IQ and expertise combined. Learn how to effectively manage your emotions and those around you for sustained success.

Also posted in Happiness | Comments closed