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"There is no instinct
like that of the heart."

Lord Byron

What is emotional intelligence? Most of us perceive intelligence as a mental quality and emotions as a feeling quality. Only recently are we beginning to realize that true intelligence is a blending of the head and the heart. Being “smart” is not only a mental exercise, we also need to develop our ability to be “heart-smart.”

Emotional IQ

Daniel Goleman Ph.D., has written an excellent book called Emotional Intelligence. In it he emphasizes the need for people to assess and develop their emotional savvy as though it were a form of intelligence. He gives a pristine example of the heights of emotional brilliance. I was particularly impressed with this little analogy, because both teacher and student have a profound experience, one that will never be forgotten.

  • A belligerent Samurai once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of Heaven and Hell. But the monk, replied with scorn saying “You’re nothing but a lout, I can’t waste my time with the likes of you.”
    His very honor attacked the Samurai flew into a rage and pulling his sword from it’s scabbard yelled, “I could kill you for your impertinence.”
    “That,” the monk calmly replied, “is Hell.”
    Startled at seeing the truth the master had pointed out about the fury that had him in its grip, the Samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword and bowed, thanking the monk for the insight.
    “And that,” the monk replied, “is Heaven.”

This is a powerful little story. Not only did the monk instruct the Samurai and answer his question, he allowed him to emotionally experience his words. Emotional intelligence is true understanding of what is learned. Once learning is embedded in the heart, as well as the head, the lesson is converted to wisdom.

Columbia University researcher Walter Mischel gave a test to four year olds that is very telling of emotional IQ. He provided the test for these children and marked the results. Then he followed their lives for twenty years to see the significant correlation between each child's test results and their measure of success in life.

In the test he took each child alone into a room where a marshmallow was waiting on a plate. He told each child, “You can have this marshmallow now, but if you wait until I come back, you can have two marshmallows.” Then he left.

Hidden cameras recorded each child's reactions. Some kids gobbled the marshmallow immediately, unable to resist the temptation. Some lasted a few minutes before diving in. However, there were some children who were determined to wait until Mischel returned. They would sing songs, play games, cover their eyes, and some even slept, to prevent themselves from eating the marshmallow before he returned. He returned about 20 minutes later. Keep in mind, that 20 minutes could seem like an eternity to a four-year old.

What is significant about this test is that in following these children’s lives, it was very evident that those who could hold out for the reward were much more successful in their later schooling and in their careers. This is considerable emotional intelligence. The children who held out were able to control their impulses and devise clever ways to accomplish this.

Research also reveals that emotional intelligence can have an effect on IQ. The mood of one taking an intelligence test can directly effect their ability to reason clearly and therefore, score well.

It is the premise of this web site that creativity is a function of mental and emotional flexibility. And, most important, these attributes can be learned and enhanced throughout life. Though some would argue that intelligence is genetically controlled, we feel that no one is restricted solely to his genetic, cultural or educational heritage. It is the spirit of an individual that determines how intelligent, emotionally or mentally, one aspires to be. No genetic endowment or environmental influence has precedence over the human spirit.

It could be enlightening to take an emotional IQ test to assess your current IQ. Though all tests are somewhat prejudiced by those who created the test, this one I found to be particularly effective in gauging emotional IQ. Take this test now and print out your results. You may want to take it again in a couple of months to see if you can discern any difference over a period of time.

All tests are merely indications of potentials in the moment. From that point of potential we get a good idea of where we are headed. There are no failures, or even successes, just meaningful experiences which we can build on in this extraordinary adventure called life.

© J.L. Read, 1996. All Rights Reserved.
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This site is dedicated in loving memory
to its creator, Janet L. Read
1949 — 2000


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