Upgrade your Attitude

attitude emotion neuroscience brain success leadership resilience leader manager different UEA IQ EQ EI Steve Jobs Mark Zuckerberg

Your attitude is critical to your success. Yet I suspect you have never upgraded the software that controls it...now is  the time.  Here is the thing - I encourage all my clients to ‘Think Different’, or as my old University (UEA),  has in its motto, ‘Do Different’. It can have very positive consequences, particularly when used to enhance our powers of Emotional Intelligence (EI).

Upgrade your mind (software), change your brain (hardware).

Why do some of the smartest people find it so difficult to deal with simple problems with other people? Why do people whom aren't as knowledgeable or experienced in a role, become hugely successful leaders in organisations? Howard Gardner famously argued that instead of intelligence being a single ability, humans have the capacity to develop 'multiple intelligences', (nine was his suggestion). Some people have a natural proficiency in emotional or interpersonal intelligence; others have difficulty with this. In a lifetime IQ remains pretty fixed. You cannot really change it (it is an operating system), but there are multiple things you can do to improve your Emotional Intelligence (it is the software that can be upgraded). There are plenty of examples of people who have risen to the top without the support of Emotional Intelligence. The legends of Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, and Mark Zuckerberg - all very accomplished entrepreneurs and yet, they're known for being somewhat ‘volatile’ leaders.

There are lessons to be gained from studying these individuals, and I know there are many ways to become a highly accomplished leader, manager and co-worker. The simple empirical truth is that by increasing your Emotional Intelligence, you can become a more collaborative teammate, a more empathetic manager and a better leader. It helps individuals in all types of relationships and massively increases the chances of happiness in our daily lives.

Research indicates that Emotional Intelligence is the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. Emotional Intelligence is the magic within us that is intangible. It affects how we manage behaviour, navigates social complexities, and make personal decisions.Emotional Intelligence has core skills or primary competencies, personal skills and social competencies. Personal competence comprises people’s self-awareness and self-management skills, which focus more on them individually than on their interactions with other people. Personal competence is the ability to stay aware of our emotions and manage our behaviour and tendencies.

Self-Awareness is their ability to accurately perceive their emotions and stay aware of them as they happen. Self-Management is their ability to use awareness of their emotions to stay flexible and positively direct their behaviour. Social competence is made up of their social awareness and relationship management skills; social competence is their ability to understand other people’s moods, behaviour, and motives to respond effectively and improve the quality of their relationships. Social awareness is their ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is going on. Relationship management is their ability to use awareness of their feelings and the others’ emotions to manage interactions successfully.

You may agree that the things you learned earlier in life, are the ones that are hardest to change; ‘You can't teach an old dog new tricks’, is a saying for a good reason. The most productive people I know, have high levels of both emotional and cognitive intelligence. It's ideal to be great at the technical part of your job while still exhibiting those signs of Emotional Intelligence. Attitude is the most important part of what we do in making life a success. I believe that attitude is more important than your past than your education than money, than your circumstances than your failures, than your successes, than what other people think about you or say or do.

Attitude is everything.  

Your attitude is controlled by our capacity for genuine Emotional Intelligence. The mysteries of our attitudes, how the mind and brain determine them, is being exposed to the power of neuroscience and neurobiology. It is allowing us some insight into these challenges and is starting to suggest what we can do differently.

Your brain is wired to produce change. That is because it is an evolutionary constant (like change in life being constant). The brain is looking for patterns and learning is the ability to join the dots up faster. The changes we experience are a natural part of evolution and growth. If there is a requirement to change behaviour, your brain will produce neurochemicals, cytokines and molecular changes in neurone level.  Your brain (and linked to the body) is a sophisticated communication network and will respond to change positively if it is trained properly (upgrade the software). IQ does not change significantly over a lifetime. EI can evolve and increase our desire to learn and grow. Working with multiple clients on improving their Emotional Intelligence, I work on these factors -

Reduce Negative Emotions.  EI is of vital importance to effectively manage negative emotions, so they don't overwhelm us and affect our judgment. To change the way we feel about any situation, we must first change the way we think about it.

Reduce Negative Personalisation. When you feel bad about someone’s behaviour, avoid assumptions and jumping to a negative conclusion. Instead, come up with multiple ways of viewing the situation before reacting.

Reduce the Fear of Rejection. Management of the fear of rejection provides you with new options in trying circumstances. It allows alternatives to be a solution not a negative.  If you avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket (emotionally) - you have a way out and different doors open when one is closed.

Have less stress (and more eustress). Stress is a normal experience for most people. The way you deal with stress is different and vital to achieving a more active and fruitful life. Learn the power of breathing (slow, rhythmic and even) and go on a Transformational Breathing retreat.

Be Assertive and Express Difficult Emotions. It is important to set your boundaries appropriately. Let people know where we stand. These can include exercising our right to disagree (without being disagreeable), saying no without feeling guilty, setting our priorities, getting what we paid for, and protecting ourselves from duress and harm.

Stay Proactive, Not Reactive. We will encounter unreasonable people many times in our lives. We may be stuck with challenging individuals at work or home, and we must not let it ruin our fantastic day.

Set Positives Consequences. Identify and work out the consequences of any action is critical. Effectively expressed, the understanding of consequence gives pause to the difficult individual and compels her or him to shift from violation to respect. I have used this with many clients to help them with the problems of co-dependence.

More Resilience. The ability to bounce back from problems positively is vital because we will face persistent challenges. It is all about attitude and choice; we choose how we react to any given situation.  Our decisions determine out destiny, so the way we think, feel and act makes the difference between hope versus despair.

Ask better questions. By asking better questions we ask, the better decisions we can make. Ask questions based on learning and priorities, not based on emotion. Gain insight and wisdom before you react.

We are hard-wired to worry, as an evolutionary strategy for survival. However, what makes us human is our ability to use our neo-cortex of the brain to control the emotional storms that originate in our sub-cortical brain regions. These emotional storms result in us dealing with past conflicts and things we cannot change. Just as the brain reinforces the use of new behaviours, the connections supporting old, destructive habits will die off as they learn to limit their use of them. Research indicates that Emotional Intelligence is linked more closely with workplace success than cognitive intelligence, especially in leadership and management. Emotional Intelligence will become essential as you take on more leadership roles and it is the key to lifelong success.

By controlling worries, through improved Emotional Intelligence, you will not only make better decisions but feel better because you have control.  Re-train your brain and be amazing. 

Think differently. Then do different.

Upgrade now.

Be Amazing Every Day

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About the author

Tim Dingle

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Tim Dingle BSc (Hons), PGCE, MBA, has been involved in education, management, comedy, research, the Law and training for the last 30 years. Tim is a former Headmaster of a top school and gained an MBA with a distinction (his dissertation was on body language and Interview skills).

 He has a unique insight into teaching, leadership, comedy and management and has now written 26 books on a variety of topics including motivation, leadership, education, training, communication, interview success and business. 

His background in management also includes being the Chairman on England Schools Rugby and an active member of the RFU and MCC. His academic pedigree (in Biology, Teaching and Business) combined with his Mediation skills, gained him a place on the Board of the Global Negotiation Insight Institute (which used to be the Harvard Negotiation project). He has lectured all around the world with keynote speeches at many national and international events. His facilitation skills are in constant use for difficult and complex problems. His training company works across a variety of sectors and is making a massive impact, dedicated to making everyone feel empowered, successful and having fun. He writes jokes as well as running a comedy club and training school in London.


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