People new to Six Seconds often ask: What is it? Is it a company, a network, a nonprofit, a community? Ilaria Boffa, Global Office Program Manager and Coordinator of Network Leaders for Europe has been with Six Seconds 5 years now and says it’s all those things, but greater than the sum of its parts.
An essential part of Six Seconds are the network leaders whose role is to connect face to face with their local communities and build a network of people actively learning and practicing emotional intelligence. These communities within communities are creating groups of people who are both strong and resilient and compassionate, who share a far reaching goal of spreading EQ to 1 billion people. If you doubt whether this is needed, just take a look at the headlines lately. Ilaria’s vision and love for the people she works with shines in this interview.
Tell me about how Six Seconds’ organizational structure supports the spread of EQ?
Six Seconds is creating a vibrant and caring community among network leaders (all certified members): those who share our mission, vision and live our practice. We want them to feel we are there to support them, that they feel safe, that there is trust (the next theme for quarter 3, it’s at the core of our community) among all the members and the Six Seconds staff, and we are there to do things.
Much of our contact is mainly virtual around the world. And although that works well for keeping us connected, we thought maybe we needed something in person in the community. That is why we thought of the EQ cafes and the workshops. Network Leaders then go into the field and work with their local community and just share their feelings and thoughts and actions being facilitators. This is the role; volunteering being a facilitator, on a quarterly theme we share with our community. We think globally, but we act locally. We need to be in contact with people in order to engage them. Network leaders are our synapse to our clients around the world. It’s a great world. There is a great involvement. People are passionate. You will discover this vibrant community.
Trust and Collaboration are really linked here, correct? How do they interact?
They are connected. First of all, at Six Seconds, what we want to convey is a message of safety. Safety drives trust and vice versa. We are very transparent during the calls. We try to explain what the Network leaders (NL) can and cannot do. There are sensitive things; they are volunteers, they are also consultants, managers, there is an overlap between their NL roles and their professional roles as a certified member. It is important that we are clear and professional from our side. We give clear guidelines. So, clarity and good communication builds trust.
During the last meeting, it was interesting that some NLs told us some participants couldn’t believe that they were doing EQ Cafes for free. They were so surprised. People are asking us what is the catch? What is the trick? Are you going to sell me something? Of course I am a professional, you can work with me. But during this EQ Café, it is just to let you know about EQ and why we’re here. It requires a kind of trust and belief that we are there because we believe that EQ is a key ingredient to well-being and to live a meaningful life.
We are here to practice EQ together as a small community. Nowadays it is so important to show the world that we can do this together. When speaking with Josh, we talked about this community of practice. Then I asked him, “Do you think the work that we are doing at Six Seconds is the way we would love to design a society?” Maybe we are creating this global movement as a vision for a new ideal society. This is a big mission to accomplish.
Is that running counter to a trend that is moving toward a more divided and scared society with the amount of change happening?
There is a lot of fear at this moment in time in the world. It’s true, we are in a scary period in history. And human beings all around the world are scared. When you are scared you are unbalanced, and you make choices without applying consequential thinking, without navigating emotions, on the contrary. I don’t believe people are all bad. Yes, they are accountable and responsible for the choices they make.
“All this intolerance and barriers, these walls, are a mirror of the fear that there is around the world. I think this kind of trust and community is a way to reduce the level of fear.”
You feel safe in this environment. We want people to be tolerant, compassionate, and responsible. When they join our community they feel this. They are able to spread these values and live the experience and talk about and act using this I think.
It’s a beautiful vision. When I talk to other network leaders and practitioners, they are all talking about working with different nationalities in the workplace to build trust.
Emotions are the common and global language that we can use. Also, when there is this beauty of diversity of culture, of languages, of beliefs, that are our richness, that curiosity should be the attitude that we should teach first of all to children.
“Because curiosity means when you face someone who is not like you, you are not afraid“
You are curious, because you want to go towards this person not away from them. It is curiosity that helps us and says, “I want to know more about your culture and your beliefs, and not I’m afraid of what you think, feel or act, or why you dress like that. “
We can teach and educate. We educate the heart and open mind, to shift from fear to courage, from judgment to curiosity. It’s so important I think. Everyone who joins Six Seconds really feels and strongly believes that this is the right and fair way to act and feel and be in the world. So that is why we are also so connected, emotionally. It’s beautiful actually. It’s just like a family. It’s a really big one.
We always wonder if we will achieve one billion people. It’s a tricky number. We say 1 billion people practicing EQ. If we are able to reach 1 million people who are really practicing, through the leaders, through this active movement, they will practice.
It’s a trend. We need to see this as a wave, as a ripple effect, a domino effect. It’s not that in two years we will be one billion practicing. When you start these waves they go far. It’s just like the butterfly, you can hear the movement in miles. I’m sure we will see the impact of EQ in a few years as a global sensitivity in the world. Even if it seems not, it is ready. Because it’s so bad now. This is one of the key elements that we can believe in to have a better world.
It seems like across various communities there is agreement that we are at some sort of turning point in history. Something has to give. That’s where there seems like there is an opening for answers. Perhaps because of the political and environmental moment we are in, it may be the timing is right for a big shift.
I reflect a lot about how people can see Six Seconds. Some people do not care about emotional intelligence. Even if they don’t want to know about that, the image that we give, the message that we convey, is a message of a powerful community. It’s different from being vulnerable and fragile from weaknesses. I think that we are a strong community, made by really strong people, not afraid to demonstrate our fragilities in being human beings, but we are so focused on our beliefs and the mission, and the fact that we truly believe this is a good way to live a meaningful life.
I hope we are seen as strong people with a strong mind, that we are open and compassionate, very responsible, and that we take responsibility on ourselves, even taking the role of guiding people toward something. In this moment, we are taking this role, we aren’t telling people, “Follow us”, but our community is made up of leaders and change-makers. It is a different kind of leadership. We can all see people arguing, building up their politics, and building up money. That is one thing. But we can achieve our goals as a community, collaborating, working together, being inclusive, not putting up walls, but building bridges. It’s like an ideal society that we want to see in the world. And I hope it will be, I don’t know when, but we are building it.
It’s not just a hope, it’s a process. It feels better than sitting around worrying.
When I talk about these things, I feel them. It’s really part of us. Every time I talk with someone at Six Seconds, and the same anger, in this moment, we feel helpless, then we reflect and everything we are doing goes in this direction. We need to consider that it’s worthwhile. When I talk with certified people especially when we work in education, they say – this is so important I want to work with my family and with my schools to children. Because that’s the core. And then business can follow.
Sometimes it feels like the children of the next generation are ahead of their adults.
Education is the first need, and it’s there we can teach curiosity and tolerance and emotional intelligence. If we show this and be role models, with the teachers, parents and all the educators, we don’t have to wait for the next generation. Children learn if they see us doing things with EQ. We need to embody the actions and the philosophy. Then they won’t even think of wars and being intolerant. If we teach them to be compassionate and responsible, it will be part of their lifestyle and culture.
This is the real value of building a community of practice. Children are not alone, we are not alone in this journey.