EQ vs. IQ

Here we go again…

There's been a lot of talk in the media lately about Emotional Intelligence, and why it's perhaps more important to one's personal success in life than one's IQ (Intelligence Quotient). After conducting a little investigation of my own, thoroughly non-scientific you understand, among my friends and family, I've come to this conclusion. I'm a believer.

One's IQ, some would have you believe, is a fixed genetic given, unable to be changed by life experience. They believe this fixes our destiny, a little number, dictating our potential to become what we want, and how well we will do at it. For me this raises a challenging question: If I can't change my IQ or the IQ's of my children, what can I change about myself and my children that will help propel us toward a more successful life?

We've all seen people we know of high IQ fail while others we know of lower IQ do exceptionally well. What's that all about? I would argue that the difference between the two would be what we call here Emotional Intelligence. Self-control, passion, zeal, persistence, and an ability to motivate oneself.

But of course, how do we apply this to martial arts?

Martial arts, for me at least, are as much about feeling as they are about punching and kicking, flipping and falling. As a matter of fact, the older I get the more I'm beginning to believe that what's inside me as a martial artist is far more important than what is outside. My physical technique is no longer as pretty as it once was, but my ability to control or manage a situation by exercising my emotional intelligence, my understanding of it, perhaps through empathy, requires that I no longer need to rely on the knowledge that I have this physical skill at my disposal.

Even in the sparring ring against a physically superior fighter, my years of experience allow me the ability to relax and smile, and move about smoothly, not allowing his technique to unsettle my emotions. What's cool about this is that it unsettles his.

To understand just how much emotions come into play in everyday life, just listen to how you, and those around you, speak, as well as how you make important life decisions. The words we use reveal a great deal of what's going on inside. Words and phrases such as ‘feel', ‘hunch', ‘in my gut', ‘my heart tells me', ‘let me sleep on it', and ‘I'm not comfortable with that' reveal there's a whole lot more happening inside than just intellectualizing.

For instance, you may be the most qualified, and your resume trumpets your abilities like a brass band, but if the person hiring you doesn't ‘feel good' about you, someone with less ability will no doubt get the job. As a matter of fact, there's a movement permeating through large corporations today to hire more for attitude than for skill. Skill can be taught easily. Attitude, or emotional intelligence, not so easily.

For a martial arts example, I personally experienced the following.

Several black belts retire to the dojo office to discuss the outcome of the black belt grading they just presided over. Each of them is concerned about one particular brown belt they all know very well. “His technique is exceptional,” the head instructor says. “Physically he'd make the best black belt in the club. He's strong, fast, focused, but…” he pauses, glancing from one black belt to the next, each nodding their unspoken understanding. “I don't ‘feel' he's ready. He's impatient with students of lesser rank who aren't as physically adept, he can't control himself (emotionally) when constructively criticized, and during tournament competition he often fakes an injury, his excuse for not winning when he finds himself losing to an emotionally controlled, physically inferior opponent. I just don't ‘feel' he's ready to be graded to black belt. My ‘gut' tells me we should wait until next time. Maybe he'll learn to control his inner self as well as he controls those feet. Man, he's fast.”

The brown belt I speak of was eventually graded to black belt, but it took a year of learning to control his emotions to do it. What's interesting is that everyone on the first grading panel had a ‘feeling' beforehand what the eventual outcome of this particular brown belt's first black belt grading was going to be. He was what everyone referred to as a ‘hot head'.

Since emotions are more commonly credited to the heart, I choose to call a person such as this brown belt I describe here, as hot hearted. Intellectually even they know what they're doing is wrong by most standards, but emotionally, in their heart, they haven't the ability to change their behavior because they've not learned to control or manage it.

On the flip side, learning to recognize your own emotions can be very instrumental in furthering your own career or martial arts. Knowing how you feel about something, and why you're feeling it can be the difference between winning and losing. In most cases, there's an underlying reason for what you're feeling. Take a moment and discover it.

Since it takes the rational mind a moment longer to respond to a given stimulus than it does the emotional mind, the first impulse in an emotional situation is the heart's, and not the head's. And it just might be the person who can control this moment that will be most successful at the game of life. When this person finds himself in a situation, he has the ability to choose to allow that emotional moment to register long enough to assess the situation, and then acts accordingly. It's a matter of having the ability to choose.

However, if you find yourself confronted by a raging grizzly bear, stalking you ferociously on his two hind feet, take the first emotional impulse. Run!

It's smart to be emotionally intelligent.

Till next time, stay sharp!

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