We’ve all had coaches or mentors in our lives, whether it was your little league coach, a college professor, or a coworker. Coaches are an invaluable resource for everyone, at any stage of life. Their role is to help us learn, grow, and evolve into the best version of ourselves – both personally and professionally. Take a moment and consider some of the mentors and coaches you’ve had, and the lessons they taught you. Pretty great people, right?
Coaches are there for us as much as they can be, but there’s only so much others can teach you, and when it comes to your own thoughts, feelings, and reactions, only you can identify the spots that truly need some work, and only you can establish the best “conditioning” needed to get you to the next level. When it comes to your emotional intelligence, it’s time to step up to the plate and be your own coach. Here are some tips to help you get started.
- Set Your Sights: What is it you are hoping to achieve? Maybe you’ve noticed you’ve been short with coworkers lately, and it’s leading to breakdowns in communications. Or maybe you’ve been such an optimist that your head is in the clouds and you need to focus in on realistic expectations. Whatever it is you want to work on, identify what it will look and feel like to achieve your goal. Write down what your hopes are – don’t focus just yet on what you’ll do to get there – just focus on the end result.
- Look Inward: An essential piece of emotional intelligence is practicing self-awareness. Find a quiet place to reflect. The point is not to simply point out any and all flaws you perceive – this isn’t an exercise in beating yourself up by any means. Reflect on the good, but be honest about the places you still need to grow. Let your mind wander. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes, then jot down some notes about what you’ve reflected on and what thoughts came to mind.
- Take Action: Now that you’ve done the hard work of setting a goal and reflecting on it, it’s finally time to strategize. Create your playbook. It’s a good idea to build in benchmarks so that you can keep track of your progress. Keep taking notes and reflecting along the way. What worked? What didn’t? Have you experienced any surprises as you move through your growth plan?
- Celebrate Success: Doing this kind of internal work, being both mentor and mentee can be extremely difficult at times, which is why it’s important to spend time celebrating your success. Even something as simple as giving yourself a pat on the back for recognizing when you’ve made a slight shift in your thought process or behavior can be extremely rewarding. Again, note how this makes you feel, and how you plan to continue this growth.
- Repeat: Achieving emotional growth isn’t like most other goals – there’s no finish line where you can say “I did it, I’m done, I can move on”. Emotional growth is a life-long process, so the more you can recognize growth in yourself, the more you have to build on. This is a good thing – you don’t just get to celebrate once, but constantly!
Only you know your thoughts and feelings, which is why it’s important to take ownership of them before they become actions. Of course, the coaches and mentors in your life will find ways to encourage you, and maybe provide some helpful hints along the way (for example, maybe it was one of your coaches who told you to check out this blog!), but at the end of the day, the work is up to you. Remember, the more in tune you are with yourself, the better you will become at communicating, working with others, and developing relationships, which is something we all must strive for every day. For more tips on developing your emotional intelligence, check out our Emotional Intelligence Series on the Ten-Minute Trainer Network!
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