This is a post for all of us practicing emotional intelligence to consider:

What does it mean to be part of a community with shared values and a clear, common approach to creating meaning in life?

How exactly do you put beliefs and feelings into practice, to live out your passions through your connection to others?

As a global community dedicated to practicing emotional intelligence in a way that supports others to practice, what are we expecting of ourselves?

This is a moment where we look out the window on our journey becoming a part of the Six Seconds’ community of practice.

A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE A SIX SECONDS PRACTITIONER?

Over the years, Six Seconds has evolved a learning philosophy that seeks to capture what we are about and how we should be with each other to perpetuate our values.

These Standards of Practice create a framework to define ethical behavior and offer a powerful way to reflect on how we “show up” as role models for a more emotionally intelligent world.

The framework helps guide us as we discover:

  1. What it means to practice EQ within the Six Seconds’ Standards of Practice framework.
  2. Strategies to apply the Standards of Practice in our daily lives and professional work.
  3. How ongoing reflection on the Standards enriches our EQ practice for ourselves, our clients, and our community.

Neuroscience Bite: Learning does not really happen on first exposure to a stimulus.  Learning happens during reflection upon that stimulus.  Here’s how it happens: Each time we re-think about a stimulus the neurons associated with that information fire, and dendrites grow, reaching outwards. When these dendrites get really close to the axon of another neuron a bridge can be formed between the two.

In Q2 we held a webinar and brought together long-standing EQ practitioners to form a reflective practice group to build that sense of community through their shared experience. At the start, we reviewed the principles of the Standards of Practice and did a self-assessment to identify where each of us stood now and what we proposed as one key goal for how we would like to improve.

We conducted a goal setting process to create a clear picture of that future state and the feelings that would support us to move forward. During each session, we reflected on the personal and professional meaning of two of the six Standards and explored where we would like to grow. We then defined specific, actionable steps to strengthen our practice. Our goal was to share the challenge and success of our focused practice and, over our 8 weeks together, become more intentional.

 

Reflection Questions for Community of Practice

     What would it look like, sound like, feel like to be stronger in our practice?

     What, specifically, would we each like to do in this area? What benefit would that provide?

     What feedback could we get and how would we know if we were stronger in our practice?

     (We invite you to use these in your own community to stimulate reflection conversations)

Elements In Action

During each of our sessions together, we considered different six elements of the Six Seconds’ Learning Philosophy, our Standards of Practice. We held a dialogue around their meaning and action.

Fish Don’t Talk About Water

Meaning: Learning requires a new perspective or dissonance.

Interpretation: While distress undermines learning, some stress is valuable. This means learners and facilitators need to move out of the comfort zone into the stretch zone. It takes a moderate level of dissonance to learn and gain new perspectives. Our job is to make it safe enough for people to go beyond comfortand conformity and to gently push them toward the land of the unknown. Youraffect will influence this greatly. If you quickly establish trust in the group, the exercise will give them a new and valuable perspective on themselves and their work.

In action: Do activities and hold discussions that create a small degree of discomfort, encouraging participants to look at situations in new ways. Talk about the “elephant in the room” in a respectful, open way.

1, 2, 3 Pasta!

Meaning: Learning must be applied and put into action.

Interpretation: Powerful learning comes to life through action; it is not only an internal process. If people don’t take action with what they have learned, we have not changed their lives and improved the world. So, we need to help them put new ideas into action.

In action: Foster the feelings of anticipation, excitement, joy to motivate action. Invite participants to identify how to put ideas into action and next steps. Be sure to save time for this important component.

The Process is the Content

Meaning: The experience of learning shapes the meaning of the learning.

Interpretation: Optimal learning comes from role modeling: talk the talk + walk the walk. Create a powerful learning process of Engage, Activate, Reflect. Learning comes from experiencing and reflecting: doing, thinking, and feeling. Our job is to model and to use our own emotional intelligence so others can develop theirs.

In action: Use an experiential approach with many opportunities for discovery, as well as powerful conceptual theories. Facilitators will be most successful if they model their own emotional intelligence in setting up and debriefing the process.

No Way is THE Way

Meaning:learners integrate and apply knowledge in unique ways.

Interpretation:There is no such thing as “one size fits all,” so we need to differentiate and personalize. We need flexibility and space for people to develop authentic, powerful, individual solutions. People learn in a variety of ways, and we need to teach to many learning styles. We also need to adapt and flex to effectively work with the complexities of real people.

In action: Engage many different learning styles so different people can learn in their own best ways. In each conclusion, participants are encouraged to do their own synthesis and craft their own authentic next steps.

Wisdom Lives Within

Interpretation:People learn best when they construct meaning vs. if we “tell them the secret.” This principle is about blossoming and unfolding; growing and transforming. Our job is to create an environment and experience where people can find their own answers. Self-reflection is key!

In action: Ask, don’t tell. Provide time and space for reflection. Share your own reflection. Validate answers and focus on deeper concepts vs. “right answers.” Don’t read slides, ask good questions about the slides.

Emotions Drive People

Meaning: Emotions are central to effective learning.

Interpretation: We don’t create meaning with emotion or analysis alone; optimal learning integrates feeling + thinking and then adds action: Head + Heart + Hands! Emotions are valuable signals that help us survive and thrive. When we learn how to use them, emotions help us make more effective decisions, connect with others, find and follow purpose and lead a more wholehearted life.

In action: Connect to your own emotions and those of others. Consider emotional consequences in decision making and performance. Share your own emotions involved in a situation and in decision making with others, and elicit their emotional connection to the learning and change process.

Holding ourselves to a standard is powerful and sharing it with others even more so. 
I practiced one principle each week. I am going to continue to do so, rotating through one a week. It has been helpful in preparing for meetings and potentially difficult conversations. – Candace

Reflecting and listening to my fellow participants intensified awareness of feeling myself being judgmental and biased, but also moving beyond that to a greater understanding from the situation or person that I was judging. – Alan

We need reflective practice to help ourselves find compassionate wisdom to understand ourselves and others, so we are not just talking past each other and not making changes that are needed, so we can progress. – Jenny

This created some space and time for me to take a step back and reflect not only on “what” I do but “how” I do things. Celebration + awareness = growth. – Lorea

Part of the solution for me was to use reflective journaling , that is the “what,” the “so what,” and the “now what.” This helped me focus on the implementation piece. – Patrick

Problem for me, walk the talk. I work with concepts and ideas, sometimes it’s just easier to fall into patterns or miss perspective. The solution is appreciative inquiry, being in the moment inhabiting my emotions and realizing that my way of engaging needs to match my purpose. –Fiorella

It was a wonderful experience hearing people from all over the world sharing similar feelings and thoughts to those I have, and especially inspiring was hearing how everyone tries to go beyond their limits by putting these EQ principles into practice in daily life. – Daniela

It takes just a moment of trying something new, to see in new ways, to respond differently, and that small moment unlocks even more new possibilities. – Josh

I so loved the multicultural community and the universal experience of being human and sharing our universal experiences. It’s been amazing! – Melanie

I realized that we are all on a journey and there really isn’t a correct way as long as we follow our heart. – Analia

 

Many people in this group have been part of Six Seconds for 10+ years. The value, for us, of emotional intelligence it is not a “quick fix,” it is deeply integrating EQ into our lives, professionally and personally. Building a community of practice is an essential ingredient of this kind of growth.

 

During our time together, we identified common problems we had confronted trying to bring to life our vision of emotional intelligence.

 

The work we are trying to do in the world is huge. We are faced with systemic and complex problems and growing ourselves as change-makers is a lifelong process.

We are practicing EQ because it is equipping us to do the hard work, the heart work, of engaging and supporting others to be EQ change-makers to keep spreading the ripples and growing the community.  As one reflective practice group member said, “I feel one of the important conclusions that many of us drew from the experience is how essential it is to have a community of like-minded (and like-acting!) EQ practitioners around.” We are better together.

Paul Stillman

Paul Stillman is Director of Organizational Vitality at Six Seconds. He has over 30 years of experience as a healthcare executive and consultant. Paul leads global efforts to promote the use of Vital Signs, Six Seconds' suite of organization assessment tools. He has a Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Systems and is a Life Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

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