What if people had more power to make their lives, and society as a whole, better?
For decades, Nigeria has faced unprecedented challenges and struggles. War, fueled by ethnic and religious division, has ravaged the country. Poverty is endemic, and so are violence and aggression. The government has been largely unable to solve these pressing problems – and oftentimes, exacerbated them. Can individual people change the future?
“It’s a moment of choice,” says Enahoro Okhae, an emotional intelligence expert based in Lagos, Nigeria.
“Let’s stop and ask ourselves: What type of world do we want?
We all feel emotions, and emotions drive us, so it’s time to start taking advantage of this strategic resource to create a better world. And it starts with each of us.”
Joining an international emotional intelligence movement that spans from San Francisco to Sri Lanka to Sydney to Seoul, Enahoro and his team at Pause Factory are passionate about bringing EQ to the heart of Africa.
On May 30th and 31st they are hosting the Africa Emotional Intelligence Conference in Lagos, Nigeria, a 2-day gathering of change makers and emotional intelligence practitioners with the goal of creating a better future, together.
AEIC is the first international emotional intelligence conference in Africa, featuring experts and industry leaders from Nigeria as well Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. The first day focuses on education, social emotional learning, and how to optimize learning throughout the education system. The second day focuses on business, the role of emotions in the workplace and how emotional intelligence can increase productivity and profitability. The purpose of the conference is to share research, best practice and implementation strategies, and to network with like-minded change makers.
And it’s all happening against this backdrop of a nation, and a continent, that is ready to forge its own path to a better future.
“People are beginning to realize that it’s time for us to drop our weapons, and see ourselves as brothers and sisters.
We come from different ethnic groups and different religions, but, most fundamentally, we are human beings,” says Isaac Onoja, who runs a popular radio program about emotional intelligence.
There is much work to be done. Nigeria’s diversity has been a source of strife since the country’s founding.
It is home to over 500 ethnic groups that speak over 500 distinct languages, and is divided roughly in half by Christians, who live primarily in the southern part of the country, and Muslims, who live in the north.
Nigeria’s history is one of colonialism, civil war, coup d’etats and military rule, with different religious and ethnic groups often warring with each other.
Enahoro says that to heal from this history and the impact it continues to have on society, practicing emotional intelligence is essential.
“We want to empower people with this amazing tool of emotional intelligence, regardless of age, religion or ethnicity, so people can make changes in their lives and in their communities.”
With a population of at least 180 million in Nigeria alone, and more than 90 million of that population are youth, the potential is limitless for creating a different, better future.
In a country and continent as large and diverse as Nigeria and Africa, Enahoro and his team recognize that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
But EQ, he says, is about equipping individuals with the skills they need to be resilient, optimistic, empathetic, and purposeful, so whatever challenges they face, they can deal with them more effectively.
In a situation that is economically and politically unstable, these skills are more essential than ever.
That is why the Enahoro’s company engages in a multifaceted approach to spread emotional intelligence. They work in schools, churches, and businesses, introducing the concept of emotional intelligence and teaching the skills that people need to put it into action.
The Africa Emotional Intelligence Conference reflects that broad scope, bringing together the stakeholders of the education and business sectors, as well as people who are interested in EQ and simply want to learn more.
Regardless of the application, emotional intelligence proves itself as an invaluable tool for creating healthy individuals, organizations, and societies.
Enahoro’s company is called The Pause Factory because of the all important moment of pause:
When people stop, think, and feel before acting, everything changes.
“People told me that emotional intelligence is a fad, that it will come and go, but a growing body of evidence refutes that. It is, actually, the bedrock of success,” concludes Enahoro.