Late last year, Joshua Freedman, Six Seconds’ CEO, spoke virtually to a group of healthcare executives in Jacksonville, Florida as part of the SoEI annual conference. His focus was on personal and organizational wellbeing. We think his talk is particularly relevant now because the Six Seconds theme for the first quarter of 2018 is Practice and wellbeing can be enhanced by practicing EQ. Also, keep an eye out for the latest global State of the Heart report, which will be released soon and may show different trends than those outlined here, so stay tuned.

Here is some of what he shared with the group:

EQ in Practice:

Personal and
Organizational Wellbeing

My understanding is that most of you work in healthcare, one stripe or another. I think we need a lot of care and healthcare in our country, in our world today. So, thank you for doing that work and for your commitment to really work on the care part of healthcare and wellbeing.

Six Seconds is a global not-for-profit organization and our purpose is to support the practice of emotional intelligence. We’re working toward a billion people practicing each year. What that means to us is that in people’s daily lives everywhere, all the time, they’re seeking opportunities to tune into emotion, making careful choices about how they’re thinking, feeling, and acting, and doing that in a way that’s purposeful. What we found is that when people have this insight and they connect more carefully and deeply with themselves and each other and step forward with purpose, the effect is transformational.

I’m going to focus today on sharing data with you from research that we’ve been doing for many years. The most recent release of this research was 2016. We call it State of the Heart and it tracks trends about emotions and emotional intelligence around the world.

If you overheard somebody say, “Wow, Jess is really smart.” What would that mean to you? What would you expect that Jess was able to do or how did that person know that Jess was really smart? Now, if Jess is really smart with math then she’s going to be really great at solving math problems. If she’s really smart with emotions, she’s going to be really smart with solving emotion-problems, like how do we motivate, how do we connect, how do we collaborate across boundaries, how do we influence people, how do we build connections even when we disagree? We really need that today!

In our research, we also look at success (and we could have a very long conversation about what success means); we have identified four key outcomes. What we’ve seen in our research between 2014 and 2016 is it these outcomes are declining. Very soon we’ll publish new State of the Heart data, and I hope to see this trend change, but I have some doubts that it will get better quickly.

What we’ve seen in study after study is that 50 to 60% of the variation of those performance outcomes is predicted by emotional intelligence scores. That shows us if we want these outcomes then perhaps these learnable measurable EQ skills might be useful. We said, “What would it take for somebody to be significantly above average on the success factors? In particular, what is the relationship between EQ and that?” We wanted to know what are the odds of being in a high-performance zone if you’re higher in emotional intelligence. The answer is, if you look at people who are above average on emotional intelligence, they’re 43 times as likely to be high in those success factors.

But there is some bad news. Now, think about what’s happening around the world. I’m not talking about any one political party or one election. You look at what’s happening around the world in this context of increasing isolation, increasing stress.

People are becoming more volatile. They’re becoming more reactive. They’re becoming less able to connect. What do we most need in the face of the challenges that we’re looking at in the world today? We need to be able to pause, get that insight, really connect with each other, and step forward purposefully. We’re becoming less able to do that. I think we’re becoming less able to do that because of these external pressures.

If you think about the forces that are at work on us, on people in your organizations, they are intense and painful and complicated. People are feeling overwhelmed. I think we’re not taking that very seriously. Your patients are overwhelmed. Your staff is overwhelmed. Your leaders are overwhelmed. Statistically speaking, not everybody, but some of them are extremely overwhelmed. I just don’t think we’ve really been confronting this reality from a leadership perspective, from a community health perspective, from a public epidemic perspective. I think we are facing a pandemic. We’re facing a pandemic of disconnection and stress and reactivity and isolation. Around the world, people are suffering because of it, organizations are suffering because of it. It’s going to get worse. It’s really, really hard to lead in the best of times. We are not in the best of times.

A little more data. We looked at some specific behavioral talents that are connected to emotional intelligence. What we can see is some really good news. Adaptability is so critical, it’s about being able to stop and say, “Wait a minute, maybe there’s another point of view that’s worth thinking about.” And, actually, people are getting better at that globally. Meanwhile, the biggest loser is collaboration. Can we actually work together to get the job done? Increasingly, the answer is no. Can we start working on this, put out the fire before it’s really blazing? Increasingly, the answer is no. Can we handle the level of stress and complexity that we are dealing with right now? Increasingly, the answer is no. Are you seeing that in your organizations? Are you seeing that in your communities?

I don’t think it has to be this way. I know, for example, you recently had a big hurricane and that many, many people said, “You know what? We kind of work together and we’re going to be proactive and we are going to figure things out. We are going to support each other. We are going to be in the storm, literally, and we’re going to stay here and work it out.” I know it’s possible and you know it’s possible, but the trend is going against us.

When you think about organizational culture, we need to think about the contexts that we create to help people flourish. We need to decide what will really be important and prioritize that and then optimize for that. If a context that supports this kind of talent is important, then what is that culture going to look like and feel like. We’re not going to be able to do everything. Let’s focus on what will make the most difference.

Globally, what are the talents that are most correlated with those outcomes? Modeling is about looking at what are the possible scenarios going forward? Imagination is envisioning what are the possibilities that we haven’t thought of before? And Entrepreneurship, which is this amazing combination of empathy, purpose, and drive. We can bring people together around a purpose and say, “Let’s go forward.” Those were the three talents that globally are going to make the most difference in these success factors.

Every quarter, at Six Seconds, we pick a theme. In 2017 Quarter 4, our theme was Wellbeing. We looked at our dataset and we said, “For people who are in the highest quartile of wellbeing scores versus the lowest quartile of wellbeing scores, what are some of the emotional intelligence competencies that are differentiating them?” Remember, emotions aren’t bad or a good. Emotions are data, they are energy, they are hormones that affect every living cell in the human body and they help regulate us to adapt to perceived opportunities and threats.

In our EQ model, Navigating Emotions is about tuning into that data and harnessing it in a way to help us move forward. Engaging Intrinsic Motivation is about finding the fire that’s inside, not what we should do, not what our mama said or is about to say or what the check mark says or how many gold stars we’re going to get, but about the fire that’s inside us based on our values and our identity and how we want to show up today. Then Pursuing Noble Goals, which is about how we want to show up tomorrow and the next day and the legacy that we’re creating through our choices. Those are the three competencies that are going to be most predictive of strengthening wellbeing on an individual basis.

Think about it in your own organizations, what would happen if you could just turn the dial and increase those three things for everybody in the building, every patient, every staff member? What would happen if people could just walk in tomorrow and say, “I’m better able to tune in and use emotions as a resource, not just reacting. I’m clearer about what’s critical for me today and I know why I’m here.” I think collective wellbeing will dramatically improve.

I laid a lot of bad news on you, but I wanted to end with good news. We can do something about this and I think that of all of the things we could be doing in the world right now, sharing these skills, in a way that’s not a heavy, problematic thing, is the most important work we can do. This is joyful work. This is beautiful work. This is the work many of us were born to do. When we tune into the data of emotions, we use that a resource for thriving.

Thank you to Kelly Mannel & Tripp Worthy at SoEI (Society of Emotional Intelligence) for welcoming Josh to their annual conference.

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.

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