Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galations 6:2
Educators have long had a focus on developing your intellect. It is a focus on IQ, aiming to make pupils learn commensurate with their intelligence. I have long harbored the suspicion that this singular focus may be wrong, and that educators need to be equally or more attentive to developing Emotional Intelligence (EI).
Some call EI a “soft skill”. It can be measured so that you have not just an IQ but an EQ as well. As one commentator said, “your IQ can only take you so far in life.” I agree. You can take a test to measure your EQ on a scale from 1-160 with averages in the 90-100 range.
In my law career, I interviewed a lot of job applicants, many of whom had college or graduate degrees. A review of their resume showed they were smart. The interview was an opportunity to determine what I called their “AQ”, or “Attitude Quotient” (this was before the term “EQ” became popular).
I wanted to find out what made them tick, what they were passionate about, and what their interests were outside of academics. It’s another measurement of “smart” in my opinion. Some call it “street smarts”.
This is important for a number of reasons, but particularly with today’s next generation who often are isolated from interpersonal contact, and instead default to texting or using some other social media rather than conversations which are face to face.
Thomas Sowell, one of my favorite authors, recently published Discrimination and Disparities. In it, he cites a Stanford University study of some 1,470 people with IQ’s at or above 140 which is generally regarded as a genius level. The study followed their careers for close to 50 years.
The results were surprising. Some in the group had successful careers, “others had modest achievements, and about 20% were clearly disappointments.”
Of 150 men in the disappointments category, only 8% had college educations, and dozens had only high school educations. Two people who were tested as children but didn’t qualify for the study by having an IQ of 140, earned Nobel prizes. None of the 1,470 people in the study earned a Noble prize.
Sowell concluded that having a high IQ is only one factor in being successful, and that there are other factors at play. For example, in the least successful group, one-third had a parent who dropped out of school before the 8th grade.
Around 1995, a number of educators realized that IQ alone was “no guarantee for the success in life”, and that it might be “too narrow a concept”. Studies show that IQ alone is not all that is needed for success in life, and that EQ may be a significant determinant of leadership potential.
Which brings me back to EQ, which covers a number of features including self-awareness, self-discipline, motivation, social skills and empathy. One of the attributes of many millennials is that they lack empathy. Their focus is inward – as in “it’s all about me.” Taking selfies is symptomatic of a deeper self-absorption issue.
Their also lack of interpersonal contact (other than through text or social media) means that they do not have a well-developed skill set at reading people – not only verbal cues but non-verbal cues such as body language.
As a lawyer, I dealt with colleagues who had what I would call limited social skills. One of them in particular had the interpersonal skills of an anvil dropped from a 10 story building.
He would unintentionally verbally run over some staff member. Periodically, I had to go into his office and tell him the grim reality that he had messed up and he needed to apologize for whatever he had said or done.
Why is this important? Studies show that individuals with a high EQ tend to make better leaders. There are now classes offered in Social and Emotional Learning (‘SEL‘). Studies show that of the kids enrolled in SEL classes, 40% improved their grade averages, and 50% got better standardized achievement test scores.
Our challenge here is that the next generations may be even more lacking in EQ than prior generations. Their focus on self can make them emotionally myopic and unable to empathize or connect with those around them in a healthy way.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Mentors are in a great position to help your mentees turn their focus away from themselves to find ways to help others. Encourage them to volunteer at things like soup kitchens or go on a mission trip.
FURTHER STUDY: Article in Forbes Magazine by Travis Bradberry, author of the book
A 2017 Forbes article titled “When It Comes to Success, EQ Trumps IQ Every Time”.
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