Images help me focus my commitment. So I would like to share with you an image that I use to maintain my focus on this work.

I like the metaphor of the iceberg because approximately, 15% of the iceberg is visible, and 85% is invisible, below the surface. Unseen. Unknown. Unexamined.

“I think of the iceberg as myself. 15% of who I am is visible — to me, and to others. And 85% remains a mystery unless I am committed to knowing.

We live most of our lives in the 15%. It includes what we have, where we live, what we do, who we know, what people think of us, what we strive for, what we accumulate, who we are trying to impress, and so on. I don’t want to get into a psychological debate, but I call that s15% “ego.” It is where most of live, most of the time. It is about me at center.

The ecosystem, the other 85%, is about our wholeness. It is about others, the whole, the center. It is inclusive. It is about our essence, that which makes us truly human beings. And in this 85%, there is power, connection, passion, fulfillment — love. Yes, independence is important and necessary, and interdependence is the foundation for a better world. Remember that the iceberg floats in an ocean that is shared by all other icebergs.

We all live in our egosystems — it is how we’ve grown up; it is how the world operates. But as we begin to have a deeper understanding of ourselves and others, as we become emotionally literate, we are able to move from our egosystems towards our ecosystems. This shift is available to us. It involves life long learning. And on a daily basis, we can move closer and closer to being in our ecosystems.

I’d like you to make two columns on a piece of paper. Title the left-hand column “Ego-system” or “me” — and the right hand column, “Eco-system.” or “we”– or whatever words work for you.

Take a few moments to write some adjectives in your two columns that describe these concepts for you.

And now please share your list with your neighbor — and feel free to expand your list and share ideas.

And here are some more words you might like to add.

What I’d like you to understand is that emotional literacy allows us to know the whole iceberg. To escape the trap of the egosystem. To move towards wholeness.

We all know that to make any change in our belief systems, our thought patterns, our feelings, and our actions requires commitment. In fact, this change requires that we be inescapably committed.

I am committed to knowing, understanding, and living my life in the 85%. It is a lifelong task. And every day, I have to remind myself of my inescapable commitment. And every day I have to work on it — I have to do something.

Take a moment now, to think about your own commitments. In particular, your commitments to your self as a life-long learner, to your students, and to making emotional intelligence a cornerstone of your educational system. What is the legacy of your commitments? Will they lead to the whole iceberg?


What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is a way of understanding and shaping how we think, feel, and act. As Goleman illustrated in that book, research suggests that emotional intelligence shapes success at home, at work, and at play.

KCG-model-clearAt Six Seconds, we divide EQ into 3 basic parts, know yourself, choose yourself, and give yourself. And all the fundamentals of EQ fit into that structure. There are many models, so the purpose here is not to say this is THE model — but just one mechanism to give us a framework to discuss the ideas

Know yourself includes

  • developing language for naming and communicating emotions — which is a big piece of emotional literacy;
  • building self-awareness — which includes seeing those emotions at work in ourselves; and
  • recognizing patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting — and the effects of those patterns on oneself as well as others.

Choose yourself includes

  • self-regulation/self-control — which includes managing emotions, behaving pro-socially, acting with accountability, responsibility, and trustworthiness;
  • applying consequential thinking — in other words, seeing the positive and negative effects of our choices and patterns — and re-choosing them as necessary;
  • engaging intrinsic motivation; and
  • choosing optimism.

and finally,

Give yourself includes

  • creating empathy — which requires that you apply all those excellent “know yourself” skills when you interact with others. Empathy allows you to understand, support, and nurture others — to build interdependence by feeling what others are feeling. And lastly
  • commit to a noble goal — a goal that reaches out beyond yourself, gives to the larger world, and makes a positive contribution through service.


I’d like you to imagine, that in ten years, you are going to pick up the newspaper, and you are going to see a headline that makes your heart smile. It is a headline that confirms that society is genuinely moving to discover the iceberg. What does the headline say?

Take a moment, and share your headline with a partner.

Now, if that headline is going to come true, what do you need to do tomorrow — or even right now — to move in that direction?

My headline is “Kids Love School,” so today I am here talking to all of you about what we could do to co-create schools where kids feel whole. And tomorrow, I am committed to taking more steps. And these steps also are part of my noble goal because building emotional intelligence, helping children love school, these are part of supporting myself and others to become human beings.

So what are you going to do?

(continued… go to page 3)

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About the author - Six Seconds

Six Seconds supports people to create positive change - everywhere... all the time. Founded in 1997, the organization now has offices in 11+ countries and certified practitioners in over 100, and is the world's preeminent resource for putting emotional intelligence into action.

Comments for this article (10)

  • nithila says:

    amazing to read about your initiative in the late 60’s… would love to have a look at the curriculum, the science of self… truly noble work. thanks for the pioneering effort, Nithila

  • Banke says:

    This is trendy! As a psychologist i like this. I will love to have an overview of the curriculum.

  • This is beautiful, Karen — the concepts, the conviction, the writing, the love — and most importantly, the Results! We met last year at a 6 Seconds conference, and I enjoyed our talks then about EQ and PTSD… but I never imagined that you are one of the originators of teaching EQ in schools… very impressive, indeed!

    Please keep up the great work, and as you said, I hope others follow our lead and take some action in becoming an advocate and catalyst in promoting EQ.

    EQ changes Everything!
    – Matt

  • Dr. Susan Stillman says:

    Re-reading your speech today, Karen, I am awestruck with its beauty, passion, and clarity. I am going to send it out to all of our recent EQE graduates, including the ones you met earlier this week. Thanks :-)

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