Archive | October, 2014

Building Confidence: A Pillar of Well-Being

Source: stokpic.com/pexels.com

Source: stokpic.com/pexels.com

by Rick Hanson

We have natural needs to feel seen, understood, recognized, included, and valued. There’s nothing wrong with this! Having these needs fulfilled, particularly during childhood has a variety of positive consequences:

  • secure attachment
  • resilience
  • self-regulation
  • optimism
  • self-worth
  • exploration.

The resources that fulfill these needs are sometimes called “healthy narcissistic supplies.”

On the other hand, not meeting our interpersonal needs can lead to insecure attachment, reactivity, poor self-control, pessimism, inadequacy, and withdrawal.

Whether positive or negative, these traits often carry over from childhood to adulthood.

There is a place for healthy remorse in a moral person. But for most people, the shame spectrum of feelings is far too prominent in their psychology – typically not so much in terms of feeling chronic shame, but in terms of how they pull back from fully expressing themselves to avoid the awful experience of a shaming attack.

Some of these feelings include:

  • Inadequacy – Sense of being unfit, useless, not up to the task, inferior, mediocre, worthlessness, less than, one down, devalued
  • Humiliation – Embarrassment, disgrace, degradation, loss of face, slap in the face, comedown
  • Guilt – I did something bad; [I know it]
  • Shame – I am something bad; [they know it]
  • Remorse – Contrition, regret over wrong-doing, feeling abashed, self-reproach, conscience-stricken

These are powerful, sometimes crippling, even lethal emotions (e.g., people killing themselves for the blots they think they placed on their family’s honor).

“Confidence” in the deepest sense is an umbrella term referring to a sense of worth in your core – that you are loved and lovable, giving and contributing, valued, and a good person. Building confidence requires us to repeatedly internalize a sense of worth. This enables us to go for the gold, knowing that there’s a goodness inside that we can rely upon in times of trouble.

Shame is a very primal emotion, it grew and evolved with us through millions of years of evolutionary history, and as such it can be a difficult feeling to combat. To fight against it we need to develop a deep reservoir of inner resources which we can draw upon in a time of need.

Cultivate Inner Allies

In effect, we grow strong “inner allies” that protect us from our “inner critics.” To function in life, we need to learn from our experiences, and that requires feedback. We have to look in the mirror and see if there’s some spinach stuck in our teeth. We need that internal evaluator continually registering: that worked and that didn’t; that helped and that hurt.

As long as the evaluator is clear-eyed and friendly, that’s a wonderful internal resource. But if it grows harsh – often through absorbing the emotional residues of the anger and contempt of others, or the meanings derived from social exclusions – it can become a terrible monkey on your back. That’s the inner critic.

The process of growing inner strengths is the focus of my new online course The Foundations of Well-Being, which covers the 12 Pillars of Well-Being including Self-Caring, Mindfulness, Learning, Vitality, Gratitude, Confidence, Calm, Motivation, Intimacy, Courage, Aspiration, and Service.

To grow inner strengths – particularly the key inner strengths that will help the most with an issue – consider the four questions below. You can use them for yourself or explore them with others. Throughout, it’s good to have an attitude of curiosity, kindness toward oneself, and resourcefulness.

  1. What’s the issue?

Pick an issue. (Maybe you’re the rare person with just one.) Try to be reasonably specific. “Life sucks” could feel unfortunately true, but it doesn’t help you focus on resources or solutions.

If the issue is located in your world or body, be mindful of how it affects you psychologically. Sometimes we just can’t do anything about a condition in the world or body, but at least we can do something about our reactions to it.

  1. What psychological resource – inner strength – if it were more present in your mind, would really help with this issue?

This is the key question. It can be interestingly difficult to answer, so an initial confusion or struggle with it is common. Clues toward an answer could come from exploring these questions:
• What – if you felt or thought it more – would make things better?
• What – if you had felt it more as a child, or whenever the issue began – would have made a big difference?
• Does the issue ever get better for you – and if so, what factors in your mind (e.g., perspectives, feelings, motivations) help it be better?
• Deep down, related to this issue, what does your heart long for?
There could be more than one resource, of course, but for simplicity and focus, it does help to zero in on just one or two key resources at a time.

Sometimes we need to grow an intermediate resource (e.g., capacity to tolerate feeling rejected, so that we are willing to risk experiencing that feeling) in order to get at the key resource we need to develop inside (e.g., inclination to ask for love).

  1. How could you have experiences of this inner strength?

In other words, how could you activate it in your mind so that you can install it in your brain? (This is the first step – Have – of the HEAL process; you can learn more about it in my book, Hardwiring Happiness, or in this video on Taking in the Good.)

It could be that the resource is already present and you just need to notice it (e.g., the feeling that the body is basically alright right now). But often, you need to deliberately create it (e.g., call up a sense of determination from the emotional/somatic memory of times you pushed through a difficulty). In Hardwiring Happiness, I go through 16 ways to have (to activate) a beneficial experience, and you could draw upon one or more of these methods.

  1. How could you help this experience of the inner strength really sink in to you?

In other words, how could you enhance the installation, the neural encoding, of this experience to grow this resource inside yourself?

This involves the second and third steps of the HEAL process: Enrich and Absorb.

If you like, you can be aware of both the resource (e.g., feeling determined) and one or more psychological aspects of the issue (e.g., feeling helpless) so that the resource starts associating with and helping with these aspects of the issue.

Build Confidence

The Foundations of Well-Being program uses the power of positive neuroplasticity to hardwire more happiness, resilience, self-worth, love, and peace into your brain and your life.

This yearlong, online program is taught by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. – a neuropsychologist and Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and the New York Times bestselling author of Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture.

Sign up for the course today.

Additional resources from Rick Hanson:

Managing the Caveman Brain in the 21st Century – The human brain evolved in three stages: reptile, mammal, and primate. Each stage has a core motivation: avoid harm, approach reward, and attach to “us.” Modern life challenges these ancient neural systems with bombardments of threat messages, the endless stimulation of desire, and social disconnections and tensions of industrial, multicultural societies. This talk from the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference will explore brain-savvy ways to cultivate mindfulness in young people, and then use that mindfulness to internalize a greater sense of strength and safety, contentment, and being loved.

Meditation: Breathing New Life into an Ancient Practice

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California has always been open to the next new thing, whether a technology, a vintner’s innovation, or what the cultural winds blow in from over the Pacific. That’s how I first tried meditation, back when I was a student at the University of California in Berkeley — then the epicenter of the try-any-new-thing attitude.

As a competitive undergrad, my first impression of meditation was that it eased my worries — I used it as an anti-anxiety measure. Like a pill, I took it morning and evening. Those late in the day sessions proved another benefit: as a chronically sleep-deprived sophomore, I would nod off for a nap as soon as my meditation started.

When I went on to study psychology at Harvard, I did my doctoral research on how meditation helps us recover from stress. But I was ahead of the curve in my interest — my professors thought I was a bit batty to take a serious interest in what was then an exotic method.

Now, though, the meditation story has changed. Several decades of research — including state-of-the-art brain imaging, reveal that this simple method trains the mind and shapes the brain, with a basket of benefits that ranges from sharpened concentration to lower blood pressure. Medical clinics routinely teach meditation to patients with chronic diseases from arthritis to diabetes to help them live better with their symptoms. And businesses are offering their employees the chance to learn meditation in order to improve performance.

Meditation refers to a range of techniques, from mantra repetition to mindfulness, which all share a common cognitive method. It boils down to retraining attention. Research at Harvard has found that our minds wander on average 50% of the time — that is, when we’re trying to focus, our minds are elsewhere.

Meditation trains attention by having us focus on one target (such as a mantra or the breath). Then comes the crucial difference between meditation and other ways to relax, whether exercising or spacing out online: in meditation, when we notice our minds wandering, we bring them back to a mental target and keep them there. Then when it wanders again, repeat. And again and again.

Brain imaging studies of this simple mental process, done at Emory University, find that the mental circuitry for focusing on what’s important becomes stronger. Attention is a mental muscle, and every time we repeat this cycle it’s like lifting a weight: each repetition makes us just a bit stronger. And focusing on what’s important is what every leader, student, coach — anybody — needs to thrive.

The research shows that this mental gym pays off after the session, throughout our day: meditation enhances people’s ability to concentrate, to keep their minds from wandering too much, and to focus in general. “Every time my mind wanders off during a business meeting,” one executive told me, “I ask myself, What opportunity did I just miss?”

A bonus here is that the same strips of neurons that help us focus also are crucial for managing our distressing emotions. The longer people have been meditators, the better their bodies become at recovering from the agitation of stress — technically a measure of resilience, that key to navigating life’s setbacks.

The biological advantages from a faster physiological recovery from upsets include a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, and more stable blood sugar levels — just to mention a few.

When researchers at the University of Wisconsin taught mindfulness to stressed-out workers at a biotech startup, they found remarkable changes after eight weeks (average daily practice time: 30 minutes). Mindfulness led to a shift in the centers that control moods: they went from anxious and stressed to upbeat and enthusiastic. Spontaneously, they recalled what inspired them about their work. And, to the researchers’ surprise, their mindfulness also resulted in a boost in immune effectiveness.

A caution, though, if you’re thinking of starting meditation. Many people expect that they will somehow experience a high during the session. But the practice is more like going to the gym: at first it can be a struggle, though it gets easier over time. Many first-timers report, for instance, that their minds are more wild than ever during meditation — actually a sign that they are finally paying attention to how often our minds wander.

The real payoffs come during your day, not necessarily during the meditation session. Don’t expect miracles — the changes are gradual and can be subtle. Dan Harris, the ABC news anchor, calls it “ten percent happier” in his account of why he meditates. But the improvements are real, as research studies verify.

The CEO of a construction firm, a meditator himself, asked me to share these methods with those working at his headquarters. Understandably many were dubious. But I approach the method as a way to train the mind, not as some woo-woo magic, and the science behind it brought people around enough to give it a try. The CEO later told me the most enthusiastic person turned out to be his head of HR; she organized an ongoing meditation group there. And she was initially one of the skeptics.

Now that I’m in my 60s, the finding I like best comes from Harvard Medical School: some parts of the brain that shrink with aging actually seem to grow larger and their neurons more densely connected in meditators!

Daniel Goleman

October 2014

This article originally appeared in The Private Journey Magazine.

Additional resources:

The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress

Working with Mindfulness CD

Working with Mindfulness Ebooks

Training the Brain: Cultivating Emotional Skills

Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth 2012 and 2013 Conference Videos

Ep. 127: Kohlrieser Speaks About Leadership to TEDxFultonStreet

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast.

 

In this episode we’ll hear an excerpt from a TEDx talk given by hostage negotiator and professor of leadership George Kohlrieser. As he tells it, successful negotiation, no matter how high the stakes, comes down to bonding. And it’s not only others who have the ability to take us hostage- sometimes we can do that to ourselves.

You can hear an in-depth conversation between Kohlrieser and Daniel Goleman in the new Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide.

 

IQ versus EQ

IQ or EQ? You Need Both

EIandIQ-v2

The CEO of one of the world’s largest financial companies told me, “I hire the best and brightest – but I still get a Bell Curve for performance.” Why, he wanted to know, aren’t the smartest MBAs from top schools like Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton all highly successful on the job?

The answer lies in the interplay between IQ and emotional intelligence – and explains why you need both for high performance.

More than a century of research shows IQ is the best predictor of the job you can get and hold. It takes a high ability level in handling cognitive complexity to be in a profession like medicine, a C-suite executive, or a professor at one of those prestigious business schools.

The more your job revolves around cognitive tasks, the more strongly IQ will predict success. A computer programmer, accountant or academic will all need strong cognitive skills to do well.

Then why the dismay of that CEO?

The more your success on the job depends on relating to people – whether in sales, as a team member, or as a leader – the more emotional intelligence matters. A high-enough IQ is necessary, but not sufficient, for success.

Just as is true for IQ, there are many models of emotional intelligence. In mine there are two main parts: self-mastery and social intelligence. The purely cognitive jobs require self-mastery – e.g., cognitive control, the ability to focus on the task at hand and ignore distractions.

But the second half of emotional intelligence, social adeptness, holds the key to that CEO’s question. As long as those super-smart MBAs are working by themselves, their IQ and self-mastery makes them high performers. But the minute they have to mesh on a team, meet clients, or lead, that skill set falls short. They also need social intelligence.

Claudio Fernandez-Aroaz, former head of research at Egon Zehnder International, spent decades hiring C-level executives for global companies. When he studied why some of those executives ended up being fired, he found that while they had been hired for their intelligence and business expertise – they were fired for a lack of emotional intelligence. Though they were smart, they were bullies or otherwise inept at people management.

Along the same lines, my colleague Richard Boyatzis, professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western University, has found that the vast majority of leadership competencies that predict the performance of sales leaders are based on emotional and social intelligence – not cognitive intelligence (like IQ).

Then there’s a brand new meta-analysis of 132 different research studies involving more than 27,000 people, which I heard reported on by a co-author, Ronald Humphreys, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. That yet-to-be published analysis concluded emotionally intelligent leaders have the most satisfied employees – if you like your boss, you’re more likely to like your job (just contemplate the opposite, morbid reality).

And reviewing all peer-reviewed research to date, the same study says emotional intelligence has been found to boost:

And then there’s general life satisfaction and the quality of your relationships.

So even though some academic studies seem to show emotional intelligence matters little for success in a job like sales, I’m skeptical.

Daniel Goleman

October 2014

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

LMC-TG-300x

Put theory into practice with the Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide. Each module offers individual and group exercises, self-assessments, discussion guides, review of major points, and key actionable takeaway plans. The materials allow for instructor-led, self-study or online learning opportunities. Includes over 8 hours of video footage with George Kohlrieser, Bill George, Teresa Amabile and more.

What Makes a Leader

What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters presents Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking, highly-sought Harvard Business Review and Egon Zehnder International articles compiled in one volume. This often-cited, proven-effective material has become essential reading for leaders, coaches and educators committed to fostering stellar management, increasing performance, and driving innovation.

FURTHER READING

Let’s not underrate emotional intelligence

It’s not IQ part 2

Leader spotting: 4 essential talents

Ep. 126: Leadership Styles, Part 5

Welcome to the More Than Sound Podcast.

Daniel Goleman has introduced 6 different leadership styles that can be used to get results. In this last episode in our series, he talks about how the leaders can’t rely on just one or even two, but must become proficient in as many as they can. Together, the styles become a set of tools the most effective leaders can use in any situation.