taking care of yourself

On April 20, 2015, we shared with you Daniel Goleman’s list of the 4 traits his research has shown are essential to emotional intelligence. Each week, for four weeks, we are going to operationalize, or bring to life, each of these traits so that you can increase your emotional intelligence, and thereby increase your effectiveness at work and at home.

Many people have told us that they read Goleman’s 4 traits but get stuck trying to figure out what they actually need to do to increase their emotional intelligence. So we’re going to do what we do — help you move from theory to a place where you are actually putting new behaviors into play.

Goleman’s second trait is self-management and he describes it as:

  1. Self-Management
    • Resilience: You stay calm under pressure and recover quickly from upsets. You don’t brood or panic. In a crisis, people look to the leader for reassurance; if the leader is calm, they can be, too.
    • Emotional balance: You keep any distressful feelings in check – instead of blowing up at people, you let them know what’s wrong and what the solution is.
    • Self-motivation: You keep moving toward distant goals despite setbacks.


Resilience: We agree that resilience is critical to success in life and work. It is both the ability to stay calm under pressure and to bounce back from the stresses of life. There are several things that you can do to increase your resilience today:

  • Your resilience depends a great deal on how you are living in your body – getting good sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, taking breaks to refuel and building good, supporting relationships in your life all support your resilience. We know that it can be frustrating to hear over and over again that you must take care of yourself to be at your best, but it’s true. It will help you handle what comes at you with greater skill and less drama.
  • Interrupt your self talk – coming back to the issue at hand rather than telling yourself stories about why something is happening can keep you in the moment and let you stay calm as you address the immediate concerns.
  • Step away from the situation to give yourself time to consider how to take action on your own behalf or on behalf of those you are leading. This step leads us directly to how to achieve greater emotional balance.


Emotional Balance: Those of you who know us know that we have developed a framework to interrupt reactivity so that you can respond as the leader that you are.

  • The Fundamental Pause™ is a powerful and active process where you pause by taking a sip of water, making a note, taking a break . . . you pause and ask yourself “Is what I am about to say or do in alignment with my goals?”
  • Once you have paused you have the opportunity to respond and let others know what is wrong and how you’d like to proceed.


Self-Motivation: Many people struggle to motivate themselves when they bump into life’s challenges. A few weeks ago we did a post on Motivation and Drive and in that post described a key strategy for reconnecting with your motivation:

  • Connect with your purpose – why does this matter to you? What is important about moving forward? Reconnecting with your purpose can help you get unstuck and moving forward again.
  • Then, use the skills that you have and ask for help in the areas where you need further mastery.
  • And, finally, you do what you can at the time to move things forward – which may mean building a plan with someone or taking small steps to begin to get traction.


This week, take some time to assess if you are doing the things that will help you build resilience as you deal with the unpredictable challenges of life; practice the Fundamental Pause™ so that it becomes increasingly natural to pause when you are hit with something that triggers old reactivity; and explore your purpose in your day-to-day actions. Practicing these behaviors will develop the key facets of emotional intelligence.