“Opportunity lies in the man, not in the job.” – Zig Ziglar.
For many years, it was commonly accepted that a person’s IQ (intelligent quotient), which is a measure of a person's reasoning ability, contributed significantly to a person’s level of success in life. The higher their level of education, the “smarter” they were – which usually meant book smart not life or street smart – the higher they would rise.
In recent years, however, much has been explored in an entirely different arena. Leadership groups, businesses, schools, and churches have begun the study of EQ (emotional quotient), the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways as well as read and relate to the people around you in healthy rhythms.
It is possible for a person to be highly educated or gifted in a particular field yet show a very low EQ, commonly known as emotional intelligence. It’s also quite possible for a person to be very educated yet still be in practical terms a fool in many areas of life. Education often shows the amassing of information or knowledge, but it does not necessarily equal the acquiring of understanding and wisdom, the ability to apply that knowledge to life.
According to Jewish wisdom literature, true wisdom finds its root in the fear of the Lord. The biblical canon contains the book of Proverbs, whose purpose, clearly stated, aims not at just acquiring information, but instead, “to know [skillful and godly] wisdom . . . in behavior, righteousness, justice, and integrity, that prudence (good judgment, astute common sense) may be given to the naïve or inexperienced [who are easily misled]” (Proverbs 1:2-4 AMP). Today, I’m afraid, we have a lot of educated fools, lacking in true wisdom and common sense, in high places in our society.
Dr. Jim Osterhaus, professor of counseling, writes, “Smart people, people with all kinds of degrees from all the best places, make terrible leaders. Not all of them, but many of them. And the reason this is so, is that these folks, though knowing all kinds of facts about many areas of life, lack any kind of self-awareness that allows them to manage themselves, leading to social awareness and the ability to manage relationships appropriately.”
This is why you can have a Ph.D. yet lack the skills to maintain a healthy marriage, balance your finances, deal with life’s disappointments, overcome addictions, and manage disagreements in a workplace. It’s also why an organization’s linchpin, to use Seth Godin’s popular term, likely may not be the person with the highest GPA or SAT score.
I’m not putting down education. I spent years pursuing bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees. However, in the raising of young adults we need to remember educational achievement is only one piece of the pie to a successful life. Ongoing personal development in several areas of life makes for a well-oiled human: mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, family, financial, personal, and career.
According to the popular book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Bradberry and Greaves, EQ is “the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.” They describe your emotional intelligence as “your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.” Thankfully, our EQ, unlike our IQ, can be developed and grown.
EQ covers four areas:
1. Self-awareness: understanding what makes me tick, thinking through both my positive and negative emotions, responses, and motivations
2. Self-management: using my self-awareness to “stay flexible and direct [my] behavior positively.” Bradberry and Greaves write, “Real results come from putting momentary needs on hold to pursue larger, more important goals.”
3. Social awareness: simply put, this means the ability to read other people, listening and observing to what is going on around you emotionally
4. Relationship-management: working toward influence, teamwork, and collaboration, developing others
Our EQ encompasses the whole person and how we relate to people around us. The apostle Paul understood this reality. That’s why much of his New Testament instruction includes practical exhortations aimed at helping people get along with others.
Career-coach Dan Miller shares, “Major companies are moving away from a focus on SATs, GPAs, brand name schools and credentials. Instead, they are looking at how does this person think, solve problems, lead and handle failure. . . . Gone are the days when companies valued credentials more than competence. . . . Your skill in this area [EQ] will allow you to form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a more fulfilling life.”
Check out the small, practical book Emotional Intelligence 2.0. It includes an EQ questionnaire and many helps at developing our own emotional quotient.
A healthy, growing EQ is one way we can put into practice one of the most important instructions of all time: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NIV).
Dr. Rhett Wilson, Sr., is a freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter, copywriter, and pastor. He and his family live in Lancaster, South Carolina. Check out his site at rhettwilson.org.