As is my habit, I borrowed a CD from the library to listen to in the car. This time it was Daniel Goleman, author of the original 1995 book that popularized the concept world-wide, “Emotional Intelligence” and Warren Bennis, distinguished professor and author of several great books on leadership, talking about honesty. I was disappointed as one would be when one has great expectations that one would be listening to two great thinkers and thought leaders on a topic that they might have some intelligent insight into and those expectations were not, unfortunately, met.
A gentle reminder of the wise old saying: “high expectations = low serenity, low expectations = high serenity.” In any case it got me thinking about honesty and its importance in our work and lives.
What I expected to hear about in the discussion between these two learned men was more about the most difficult honesty there is – honesty with one’s self. They talked a lot about transparency in the corporate world and, to be sure, that’s an important kind of honesty, but what about being honest with one’s self? How often are we stopped in our tracks and held accountable for what might honestly be going on within us?
As I continued to ponder this question about how one actually gets honest with one’s self, it begged another question, “why be honest with one’s self?” This prompted me to think of another old saw which gets attributed to Einstein. I’m not sure if he came up with this one, but he certainly could have. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I guess if you grow tired ‘enough’ of getting the same ‘bad’ result; if you’ve had enough ‘pain’, you decide to get honest, because self-deception, how else can you do the same thing over and over, no longer works.
What is the connection with emotional intelligence and EQ? I think it’s Emotional Self-Awareness that is the skill we require to face ourselves, but what’s our motivation for doing so? Maybe it’s tiring of a lack of Happiness or Self-Actualization.
I believe that just as organizations need to ‘face their brutal truth’ as Jim Collins points out in Good to Great, we individuals must do the same thing. We must face our brutal truth and choose to change.