Cultivating Emotional Intelligence
Updated: Sep 23
More than two thousand years ago, Virgil, author of the Aeneid, said “Follow an expert.” As zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19 and the current H1N1 strain threaten to rob us of what sustains us, his advice still rings true. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus” (March 2020). As a result, regular hand washing, wearing masks, and avoiding close contact has become a new norm for many. However, this current reality has its roots in an old one as described in Alvin Tovler’s, Future Shock. Fifty years ago, Tovler said we would be at combat with our environment and change would whirl out of control. His predictions came true. Incredibly, 40,000+ new cases of the virus are detected daily in the U.S. and a domino effect is occurring resulting in the erosion of all we once knew to be permanent.
Due to "magical thinking," some individuals do not believe they will be affected. They feel the virus will not touch them and they carry on as always. However, trying to wish the pandemic away is futile and dangerous. More jobs will be lost, American dreams will be deferred or destroyed, and technology will necessarily reign king. Tovler predicted accurately that the social change will leave people disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation.”
Survival during this period of upheaval is heavily dependent upon one
factor - emotional intelligence. Now, more than ever, we need to help and support one another.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor one’s emotions and to use this information to guide one’s thinking. Emotions can drive behavior to impact people positively or negatively. Learning how to manage one’s emotions under pressure is key. As frontline workers, leaders, educators, employees, parents, and significant others, we need to incorporate emotional intelligence into our daily lives. The concept encompasses connecting with others safely, utilizing empathy and self-control, managing change, and cultivating opportunity through divergent thinking. These are crucial skills, especially during these trying times.
Strategic intelligence often works in tandem with emotional intelligence. Individuals with strategic intelligence make allies and form partnerships (Maccoby, “Strategic Intelligence,” 2015). They have the foresight to sense an incoming wave and ride its crest. They possess an inner knowing of how to create value for entities they work for or lead. These individuals understand that some of the old organizational models will not work in the new COVID-19 environment. They think creatively and change with the times.
What we do today determines what will happen tomorrow. A lack of emotional intelligence has caused the virus to spread exponentially and now the European Union treats the most powerful country in the world like an unwanted stepchild. Let’s do better. Let’s weather this storm and be strategic, make sound decisions, and put an end to strife. The fate of the world rests in our hands.