Why Your IQ Won’t Predict Your Success and How to Improve what Will

Vicki Silverthorne's picture

Why Your IQ Won't Predict Your Success and How to Improve what WillIf you think back to your high school days, remember the brainiac, the one who aced every test and had SAT’s scores that were the envy of all the class. They probably had an IQ score close to Einstein’s. If you were ever jealous or felt that they had an unfair advantage, there is good news. Your IQ doesn’t have to be the determining factor in your success in work, relationships and overall life. In fact, it generally isn’t. There is a measurement that predicts how successful you will be and accounts for as much as 95% of your success. You can also improve this over your lifetime. What is this? Emotional Intelligence. 

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is described as the ability to understand yourself and others to achieve the best outcome in your life and relationships.

Where Did It Come From:

Since 1990, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have been the leading researchers on Emotional Intelligence. They defined Emotional Intelligence as, "the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions". Daniel Goleman, a science journalist, reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half.

Five Categories of Emotional Intelligence:

  1. Self Awareness
  2. Self Management
  3. Motivation
  4. Relationship Awareness
  5. Relationship Management

Self Awareness: Managing Your Emotions

The first step to achieving a higher EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is Self Awareness. So what exactly does that mean? Self awareness is when you are able to understand your emotions at the moment and then understand how you normally react when these emotions occur. For example, knowing that your body tenses up with you feel disrespected and then knowing that you most likely will become angry and lash out at someone. A high degree of self awareness allows you to tolerate the discomfort of focusing on emotions that might be negative. It’s really important to understand your reactions to what’s going on around you and to study yourself so you can start to understand what makes you tick. Sometimes, just thinking about this will help you improve the skill. The more that you can peel back the layers of the onion and get more comfortable with your emotions, the more you discover the essence of you.

So How Exactly Do I Do This?

Quit treating your feelings as good or bad: stop seeing your feelings as black and white. Instead, you can become curious about them and observe them. This helps you learn about yourself.

Lean into your discomfort: don’t avoid uncomfortable feelings. Instead, lean into them and move towards the emotions. Often, we distract ourselves with meaningless activity, so we don’t have to feel discomfort. By leaning into the discomfort, you will discover that it isn’t that bad, while also learning about yourself.

Practical Application: Here is an example of what we are talking about:

A woman was the fourth girl in her family. Her parents were hoping she would be a boy, and were very disappointed when she was born. As a result they didn’t pay much attention to her.

-The woman gets married. When her husband ignores her, she gets really reactive and starts screaming.

-The woman recognizes her emotions of being hurt and angry. She notices that her breathing gets shallow, her stomach has butterflies and her shoulders get tense. The woman tunes into this and realizes that a core hurt of hers (not getting attention) is being triggered.

-She then decides to give her husband the benefit of the doubt, so she practices slow breathing, calms herself down and changes her thinking regarding her husband. She thinks, “My husband had a 12 hour day and is feeling stressed about other things. I know that he loves me. My feelings right now don’t define our relationship.”