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Notes from The
Art of Leading Yourself:
Special note - I began reading this book before the events of Sept 11, 2011and October 7. It does not specifically address the issues of violence and peace but it does promote some basic principles and guidelines which I endorse. These include:
Other EQI.org Topics:
|This is the first
leadership book I have seen which actually places a high
value on all of our emotions. Other books urge us to
always be optimistic, resilient, loyal, persistent, etc.
Such books seem to devalue negative feelings and even
imply that they are "inappropriate," especially
in an organization. This author, instead, encourages us
to feel all our feelings, even the painful ones, knowing
that this is a process worth going through because some
positive value will come from it. It is also the first
leadership book I know of which focuses primarily on the
Mayer-Salovey model of emotional intelligence.
The book urges us to listen to our inner voice to help us know what is truly important, what is needed in the world and what our greatest gifts are. The book reminds me a bit of the work of Stephen Covey in the sense that both authors are basically telling us that if we are not leading in tune with our fundamental values and principles, we are not creating something of true value to the world. This is a concept I also strongly support.
The book is written to instruct you how to use your feelings and your innate emotional intelligence to help you re-assess just what are your own most fundamental values, principles and talents. At first I was afraid the author might be just another who was exploiting the popularity of the term emotional intelligence. But in reading the book for a third time, each time I am seeing more value in it, and how closely aligned it is with my own views on emotional intelligence and life itself.
Recently I have had the opportunity to work with Randi as colleagues in our effort to reduce world violence. From that I see how sincere she is. Perhaps most importantly, Randi writes about what she has experienced in her own life, and what she has directly observed through her work as an executive coach. She assures me the changes in people she has worked with take hold on a deep level, something I can understand as I see more clearly what she is talking about in her book.
But this is the kind of book which one has to be "ready" for. There are subtle parts of it that you are likely to miss in a first reading. It will not appeal to everyone, because it requires an emotional investment rather than just an intellectual one in order to benefit from it. But for those who are open to it, it offers a new way of using feelings and emotional intelligence to help make better decisions about one's careers and organizations.
I have entered much of the text from the beginning of the book so people can get an idea of what the book is about and how it is written. By the way it was a best seller in Scandanavia and has just recently been translated to English.
If you would like to purchase the book via this link on my site, I will get a small referral fee from Amazon.com.
|These are direct
quotes from the book unless otherwise indicated.
From the foreword:
Randi's stated mission is "to bring out hidden resources in others and in myself in order to create the lives we want to live."
Randi is masterful at helping other people understand themselves and become happier and more productive--by discovering and building on their strengths. Just as importantly, she teaches people how to get in touch with and understand the emotions that can get in their way, and how to channel the energy of these emotions in positive directions.
From the introduction --
Since its publication in 1995, I've received letters and phone calls every day from people who tell me how the book has made a difference, serving to inspire, to motivate, to challenge, and to change the way they think about their lives. It's been deeply moving to learn what an impact the book has ha on individuals, couples and corporations. I'm grateful that I could provide a catalyst for helping people take charge of their lives.
Success with Meaning
I wrote this book for those who want to move their lives in a healthier, more rewarding direction; who want a better, richer and more meaningful life. This book is for people who want to give their all while here on Earth, who want to contribute creatively to the world around them. When we feel that life is vert difficult, we ask how we can reshape our existence to make life what we always dreamed it could be. That's what this book is all about.
Deep down, people are very much alike. We all struggle with the same problems, albeit in different disguises, yet we deal with these similar problems in very different ways.
All over the world, leaders are rethinking what effective leadership really means, and countless individuals are taking emotional intelligence very seriously as a means of recreating their careers, their relationships and their lives.
Mayer and Salovey are internationally regarded scientists in this field, and are at the vanguard in measuring emotional intelligence, This book relies upon their definition, which we'll examine fully in the section, "Emotional Intelligence Defined." By thinking emotionally, we can become better leaders of ourselves and of those around us.
Getting in touch with your emotional intelligence will make it easier to learn how to manage and lead your life. It's astonishing to see how many of the participants in my seminars are disconnected from their emotional core. Many approach me for help creating a better life for themselves and fulfilling their dreams. They need coaching to get on track to the kind of success and meaning they're searching for. Look at this book as your personal coach.
Emotional intelligence, like cognitive intelligence, is partly inherited and partly a product of education, so the good news is that you can develop your awareness of emotions, just as you can learn in other fields. The tools in this book will help you not only to learn about your EI, but also to harness its powers. Whether you're searching for creativity, professional success, better relationships or peace of mind, this book will guide you to accessing your EI in a way that resonates with your inner voice, In short, it will help you more fully become the person that, somewhere inside, you know you already are.
Emotions are contagious. While leadership discussions often focus on the behaviour of others. EI requires that we start with leadership of the self. If we see emotions as an individual's core, and agree that an individual can influence others, we naturally conclude that a persons's emotions are the key to leadership. Great leaders have the ability not only to relate to and empathize with the emotions of others, but also to recognize and manage their own emotions intentionally and constructively.
You could very well view this as a workbook, and let the concept of work really guide you. As with most kinds of work, there is a payoff, and the payoff here could be the greatest reward of your life. Many people have told me that they've read the entire book, and specific parts of it, a number of times before the ideas took root. The book is also a good basis for stimulating discussions with your colleagues and all the other people you care about.
This book is easy to read, but don't let that fool you. Some of the stories might convey the impression that reaching certain goals is easy, but I can assure you that you'll need to make some very serious choices about the way you live. Creating the life you want takes awareness, time and focus. Be prepared to use the tools offered in this book over a period of time. Try to get involved in what you read; make it matter to you. An occasional urge to throw the book against the wall or out the window might be a signal that you're touching on some important insights about yourself. Often, it's those moments of emotional upheaval and turmoil that force us to confront what's most important to us.
I believe that one day it will be possible for us all to say, as the former president of Iceland, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, did, "When a storm surrounds me, I feel completely calm, because I know who I am and what I want."
Questions and Answers
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is the intelligent use of thoughts and emotions, heart and mind working harmoniously. It's the ability to use the power of your emotions as a source of information, motivation and connection.
What will Emotional Intelligence do for me?
Tapping into your EI will help you solve problems and live a more effective, fulfilling life. It will help you make better choices and deal with people more wisely.
Can it make me smarter or happier?
The tools in this book will help you tap more of your intelligence--both IQ and EI. Dealing with your emotions will give you greater happiness and inner peace, and enable you to get rid of that empty spot or the restlessness inside.
Will it get me a better job or a promotion in my present job?
What's a better job? Is it one that impresses other people, or one in which you're happier? Using your EI will help you find or create a job that's more you, because you'll become more realistic about your strengths, and using your strengths will make you happier.
Will it make me more productive and effective at work?
Using your EI focus on your strengths will help you market the best of yourself instead of pretending to be something you're not. Thus, you'll become more productive and effective in everything you do.
Will it make me a better team player?
Yes. Research shows that we need a high level of Emotional Intelligence to be good team players. On any team, you need to understand and deal with your own feelings and reactions and those of your teammates.
Can it improve my relationships; make me a better friend, lover, husband or wife?
Tapping your Emotional Intelligence leads to the ability to create trust and be authentic. It's vital to developing good friendships and lasting relationships. If we can't access and manage our emotions, we can't be fully aware of how we influence other people, or interact with others with self-confidence, autonomy and compassionate understanding.
|From chapter 1
(p. 1) Knowing yourself
Limits, possibilities and breaking free
Once, a baby circus elephant was tied to a heavy stake. The little elephant was so curious, so full of life. He wanted to catch butterflies, look more closely at the flowers that were just out of reach, and play with the children on the grass. Life was an adventure that had to be experienced at that very moment. He jumped up and yanked on his leash again and again, but he couldn't free himself.
This is how we all once were--full of vitality, passion and determination.
Nearby stood the baby elephant's mother. Around her neck was a very thin rope attached to a small stake in the ground. Had she tugged even slightly on the rope, she could have freed herself. but she didn't, having learned long ago that it would have been in vain.
Many of us have also given up, believing that there's no hope of changing our lives.
(p. 2) More then twenty years ago I too had give up hope. Recently divorced, I was living in the United States. I hadn't yet gotten the money for the business I had sold; I was broke and unemployed, and had no promising prospects. My friends, including my best girlfriend, couldn't stand to be with me anymore because of my desperation. I was hard to be around be, but I didn't understand that then.
My family in Norway was dissappointed in me and refused to help me in my time of crisis; not even with money for food. By the time they came around, I felt totally alone in the world. My seven-year-old son, who witnessed my plight, declared that he couldn't stand me. I struggled with feelings of fear, desperation, aggression and helplessness--perhaps some of the same feelings you face today. I felt despair as I've never experienced before or since.
I began asking myself some serious questions. Why had I been successful professionally while failing miserably in my private life? Why had my relationships with friends and family deteriorated? What within myself had led me to this low point? I looked everywhere for answers: in career consultants, psychologists, books and friends.
I started exploring my inner self, scrutinizing my soul and personality. Gradually, I was able to see and understand myself more clearly. I managed to calm down and get control of myself, reorganize my life and start a new career that was both successful and meaningful. I had enjoyed financial "success" before, but with an empty feeling inside. Now, my self-confidence was growing, which gave me energy, strength and a fighting spirit in situations where I most needed them.
The lessons I learned on this journey penetrated to the depths of my soul, and are what I want to share with you. They opened my eyes and profoundly changed my life.
(p. 4) In my youth, my question was:" What does the world want me to want?" I struggled because the world was constantly changing its mind. Today, it is a relief not to feel dependent on the world's expectations, because I know what I want.
Knowing that I'm responsible for myself and for making my own decisions puts me in the driver's seat; I am the uncontested boss of my life and can never be laid off. This means that I, not other people, determine the course of my life. I make my own choices about my life and about how I want it
If you don't know what you want, it's easy for other to take charge of your life; you become like a cork in the middle of the ocean, lost and at the mercy of external forces. If you've taken the time to find out what you want, you are leading your life; you are at the steering wheel.
You might be asking yourself:"How can I know for certain what I want?" For many years my primary concern was the expectations of others. It became very simple for me when I learned that we've got to look within ourselves to find the answers. I learned to rely on my inner voice. ...
(p 5) Your optimal choices will also benefit those around you significantly. Everyone has this source, an inner voice that can serve as a personal coach. If you ignore this voice for a long time, it becomes weak and nearly impossible to hear. Deep down, we know what's important for us, but we feel completely certain only when we are at peace. Only then can we hear our inner voice clearly. But we are often not at peace; then we stumble along with contradictory forces trying to control us, which is both confusing and tiring.
The most reliable guidance comes from your inner voice, not from books or experts. You can get good ideas from books and other people, but examine them with you inner voice to decide whether you really agree. We are responsible for our lives, whether we choose to accept that responsibility or not. All other responsibilities are optional, but we are responsible for ourselves one hundred percent of the time.
By tapping your emotional intelligence you can be guided from within to take the next step and make the next choice. Just ask yourself how and give yourself the peace you need to hear the answer. The best we can achieve is finding out what's right for ourselves, because no one else can make those judgments for us, though they will try. People might believe that they "know," but they can't really know. Why? Because thy are not you, so they can never fully understand you inner voice.
To make emotionally intelligent choices, it's important to make sure that it really is your steady, calm inner voice that you're in touch with. If you're relaxed when you "hear it" and it gives you the same message over time, chances are good that it's your inner voice. Avoid mistaking an emotional whim for your inner voice. Such whims can lead you into chaos. Emotional intelligence is the opposite of emotional chaos; it's emotional clarity, when your head and heart are aligned in peaceful knowing, and you are in full agreement with yourself. This is the strong, tranquil message of your inner voice. You can trust your inner voice when you've integrated your negative feelings so that you're calm; you need to have worked through to your positive emotions for your inner voice to be dependable.
If we disregard our inner voice, our road becomes more and more difficult. If you follow your own road, you're safe. If you try to travel someone else's, you'll lose your way time and again. When pain and anxiety disturb our feelings, we ask ourselves what we really want. When we've made the right choice, our feelings become quiet again. ...
[She says basically on p 7 that comparing yourself to others can be destructive to the inner voice. ]
(p 8) For many years I imported sportswear, a job that required me to visit Europe regularly to acquire new collections of clothing to sell. On the journey, I always conversed with the person seated next to me (in the seventies, more men than women flew across the Atlantic). Unbeknownst to me, the plane was becoming my research laboratory. I couldn't help questioning my neighbor about what he liked to do, what he yearned to do, and what he didn't like doing but did anyway. I soon learned that may people wanted to excel at what they didn't like. My advice to them was (and is)always the same: "Build on your strengths, not on your weaknesses. Concentrate on what you are passionate about or you'll just be mediocre." Before landing in Copenhagen or Boston, our conversation had inevitably revealed a lot about my fellow passenger's true abilities and interests. This was a unique and very exciting opportunity to understand human nature.
Then, remarkably, I began to get letters and calls from all over the world. People thanked me for the conversations we'd had, and told me how transformative they had been. From call after call I learned that people were taking charge of their lives by doing the things that reflected their strengths and passions. The businessman who called from New York had started his own bookstore; my cleaning woman began studying philosophy; our babysitter started manufacturing handbags. When I heard from the woman in Ghana who had become head of a thirty-person company, and when calls poured in from Paris and Milan, I finally understood that I had an idea that could be my calling, something that would be meaningful and enjoyable for me and for others.
(p. 11) Many business leaders come to me ... because they want more meaning in their lives. ...
Many people want others to discover
for them what they are best suited to do in their
professional lives. You , however, have the potential to
understand yourself better than anyone else can. Few
people can give you good advice, and it's very risky to
put your fate in someone else's hands. Ultimately, you're
the one with the insight and the motivation to understand
(p. 12) The sooner we find careers
that correspond to our true selves, the better and richer
our lives will be.
Start by asking yourself some simple questions: What do I enjoy doing? What gives me the most pleasure? What kinds of activities come easily and naturally to me? What am I passionate about? When you can answer these questions truthfully, you'll have uncovered your gemstones. Remember, what you enjoy doing is your resource, and what you love to do is your greatest resource of all. Our resources emanate from us, whether we want them to or not. If you pay close attention to the choices you make and the things you naturally gravitate toward, you'll see that you're revealing your resources.
Part of the difficulty in
understanding our resources is that we can't really see
ourselves. We take our talents for granted; using them
feels so easy that we forget to give ourselves credit for
(p. 14) You can be inspired to find out what you really want to do by the advice once given by the great German author Rainer Maria Rilke in his Letter to a Young Poet: You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked other before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you - no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: mist I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. This answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must," then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse...
Finally, I want to add just one more bit of advice: to keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your whole development; you couldn't disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to questions that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer.
Unfortunately, many of us learned in childhood to suppress our natural inclinations. With the best of intentions, our parents encouraged us to follow the safe, pedestrian, route rather than encouraging us to gamble on the talents we really waned to develop.
(p. 23) The concept of "ought
to" distracts you from what's real. The sooner you
accept what actually took place, the easier it will be to
deal with the reality confronting you. By taking
responsibility for living in the real world rather than
world of hopes and illusions, you become better able to
take charge of your life.
(p. 24) When life becomes an
"I ought to" affair, we continually feel
inadequate. We lose contact with ourselves and with our
potential, and undermine our self-confidence.
Life gets easier when you no longer
expect that you or others "ought to," we can
base our choices on what's real right now.
(p. 32) An early stage in coaching
leaders is to map what kinds of wounds stand in their
way. I always find some, and the leaders I work with
become better leaders when they have neutralized their
hot buttons. The next step is to give attention daily to
what you feel, in order to manage the emotions as they
happen. Being aware of your emotions is the key, then
feeling them, then having them tell you what they have to
say. You learn to listen to yourself, and take signals
from yourself and others seriously. That is a
self-leadership tool we all need to develop; that's using
your emotional intelligence.
(p.39) If I do no accept the fact that my feelings come from within myslef and are therefore my responsibility, I won't be able to create the life I want.
Now is the time to ask yourself whether you're willing to acknowledge that your feelings are your own and that they're entirely your responsibility. If my feelings had been a result of external influences, I couldn't have influenced my life in a constructive, positive way. When you give the responsibility for your emotions to others, you make yourself powerless. Choosing to accept that your feelings are yours alone is one of the most important choices you can make.
Once we accept our feelings, positive and negative, our challenge is determining what to do with them. Negative feelings are powerful; they deserve close attention because facing and managing them opens the way to happiness, closeness, succes, strength, insight and clarity. Our true potential is hidden behind our negative feelings. By working through them we can uncover our gems, our true wisdom.
(When Randi says we can uncover our
gems and our true wisdom my question is "How do we
do this" This is one of many places where Randi
seems to make broad statements without fully explaining
her reasoning. I would also say that by identifying our
negative feelings we discover our unmet emotional needs,
so I don't understand what she means when she says
"our gems and our true wisdom".)
... to be continued
(My thanks to Sofie Janssens for her help in entering the above notes)
At one point I thought she was saying that our feelings speak to us most clearly when we are at peace. I objected to this and wrote the following:
"I disagree. My feelings also speak to me loudly and clearly when I am turmoil or depressed, especially as I am coming out of it. It is like my brain is taking time to focus, then my ideas are more clear when I come out of a depression. Maybe it would be like thinking I am down in the valley looking for all the possible routes to the top of the mountain. Once I decided on the path I will take, I focus all my energy on climbing it."
Then the author and I spoke and she explained she was talking about our inner voice, not our feelings. She explained that she makes a distinction between the inner voice and feelings. I don't really make this distinction in my work, but it might be a good one, so this is why I had the misunderstanding.
When she talks about the problems when we ignore our inner voice for too long I agree, I also thought that it is not only a question of ignoring it, but we were never taught to allow it to speak to us. We were never taught to listen to it in the first place, or that it even existed or had any importance. Also Randi and other writers such as Nathaniel Branden say, we are taught to listen to external voices at the expense of our own.
I believe our inner voice, which speaks to us through our feelings as I see it, was often drowned out by the voices of authority. Our feelings were repeatedly invalidated, so we never gave our inner voice an opportunity to fully express itself. Thus, we have never gotten to fully know ourselves, our needs or our potential.
The author says deep down we know what is important to us. I would say deep down we know what our needs are.
I would also say the statement about "when pain and anxiety disturb our feelings we ask ourselves what we really want," could be changed to what we really need as well as want.
When she says "When we have made the right choice, our feelings become quiet again," my first thought was that sometimes they shout out joyfully or triumphantly if we feel good about our decisions. Later Randi said, agrees and that somewhere she has written that when we make the right choice it makes our heart sing out.
Generally speaking Randi's is saying that our feelings serve to tell us when we are out of balance and when we are back in balance. Or as Bechara et al say our feelings are "the bioregulatory responses that are aimed at maintaining homeostasis and ensuring survival." p 192 of the Bar-On book.
p 8 "Using the skills that our driven by your strongest emotions is part of using your emotional intelligence." I didn't understand this at first. When we talked about it I could see that she means for example that if I always felt curious, my curiousity will later be one of my best assets. If I felt a need to express myself, to talk or write, my communication skils will become one of my greatest skills and therefore one of my greatest values to the human species. So I am inclinced to agree with her.
In some places she implies that we should be following our passions. A concern I have with this generalization is that if we were emotionally damaged and/or if we were raised in a society which has unhealthy values, we might feel strongly about things in the wrong proportion. For example, a person might feel very strongly about his new car getting a scratch on it. We might also feel strongly driven to compete when competition is not what the world needs more of. We might feel strongly driven to acquire more material wealth when more material wealth is not what the world needs right now. So I would caution that you might be passionate about something which is unhealthy for you, your family or your relationships.
She says many of us end up feeling inadequate, unsatisfied and unmotivated bc we have entered into careers that our not in synch with our deepest passions and strengths. I would say our deepest passions, values, beliefs and strengths.
She talks about our true selves, and how important it is to find careers that are in line with our true selves. But we need to define this term more clearly.
Later she talks about our interests and talents which is a little more precise but I would say our needs, our fears, our desires, our potential. Even these need to be defined precisely.
Specific suggestions for the next edition:
I would suggest the author present the emotional intelligence framework in the beginning of the book, rather than save it for the end. And I would refer more frequently to specific parts of it, such as using, understanding or managing emotion. I would also suggest she emphasis the importance of using feeling words, as I discuss in my section on emotional literacy.
I would also suggest the author leave out the few references to "God" since some will feel offended by the assumption that everyone believes in some sort of god or higher power other than nature itself. And I suggest more care when using the word "meant," such as in her statement "we are meant to be different" on p 11. This implies there is some divine plan for us, or that she knows what is "meant" for us, or that someone knows. To me this could be interpreted as condescending, dismissive or arrogant. I would suggest instead she simply say by nature we are all different.
These are minor criticisms, though, in what is overall a book worth reading.
If you are in a position to afford to do so, I would also recommend you speak to the author directly. I know that she does phone coaching or consulting, and while I am generally reluctant to make recommendations, I feel more comfortable than usual doing so in this case now that she and I have spent many hours in very open discussion. I suspect the book will mean much more to you also after some direct conversation and clarification.
|Here is an email I had
for Randi back in 2001
randi.noyes << at>> leadership-International <dot> com