It is both with a heavy and a hopeful heart, I share these reflections with you today, which also happens to be the most important day in the Tibetan Buddhist calendar called Saga Dawa, which translates as “Great Occasion”. Saga Dawa commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. It is also said that whatever actions one takes on this day (by thought, word, and deed) carry 100,000 times the impact they normally have.
Therefore, as a Buddhist and CEO in training, it feels particularly poignant and appropriate to make aspirations that ripple across humanity, to our brothers and sisters in marginalized communities, and to absolutely anyone across the globe who is experiencing the deleterious effects of oppression and racism. Let this not be the only day we make aspirations, but the day that marks our collective commitment to dismantle the complex systems that give rise to oppression.
The seeds of Goleman EI were planted back in 2015 when Hanuman, Daniel, and I began a dialogue resulting in a collaboration to accomplish three things, which remain the mission of Goleman EI today:
- To Democratize Emotional Intelligence (EI) – Making EI accessible to more than the upper echelons of leadership and broadening access to people across the globe.
- To Transform EI Theory into Practice – Breathing life into EI as a means for developing our positive qualities and creating an actionable path to the embodiment of EI and not only as an academic or intellectual pursuit.
- To Benefit Beings – Absent a compassionate foundation and the intent to benefit beings, even EI can become distorted or misappropriated. Thus, we need to be explicit: We develop EI for the benefit of all.
Goleman EI was incubated, starting in 2016, within Key Step Media. Like many new endeavors, we started with absolutely no start-up capital, only the hard work, passion, and tireless commitment of the team who created the suite of offerings that have become Goleman EI. We formally launched on October 10, 2019 coinciding with Digital Intelligence Day at the World Economic Forum in NYC. Our EI family has quickly grown to include 20,000 + participants in our online learning programs hosted by Everwise, global enterprise clients, 81 Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification (EICC) participants, 40 EICC graduates, 33 Meta-Coaches in training, 32 Emotional Intelligence Meta-Coach EIMC graduates, and world-class Faculty.
We want nothing more than to be able to offer our expertise and EI programs to all, yet find ourselves not being able to do this as quickly or as vastly as we aspire to do. I am making an open appeal to any individual, any leader, any company who wishes to collaborate in our efforts to democratize EI on a global basis.
Why does Democratizing Emotional Intelligence matter? Here, is what some of the Goleman EI team members had to say:
- It brings us closer to unifying humanity and world peace.
- EI is inherently within us all. It’s really about embedding training across the lifespan, especially K-12 and “students” being ready to receive it.
- To me is important because it can alleviate the emotional suffering that shapes people’s personalities and “controls” their lives.
- It helps dismantle bias on an internal level, at the level of habits of mind, and helps us ignite our own agency.
Emotional Intelligence holds the key to our ability to wake up:
- When we truly examine where we have agency (that is our ability to act, the seat of our influence and personal power), irrespective of the context in which we find ourselves whether it be a position of privilege or a position opposite from that or any circumstance in-between, our agency rests within our ability to act and react at key, critical moments. These inflection points exist between stimulus and response and represent our ability to choose and to show up at our best and in alignment with our values.
- However, without training, we tend not to notice these inflection points and they can easily slip past us, beneath the surface of our conscious awareness. It is often at these inflection points our worst habits appear instead.
- When we are fearful or are threatened, whether physically, emotionally, or on a perceived basis, we are at risk of doing or saying the thing we later regret.
- This is where EI training comes in and is so critical! It helps us recognize and work with the variables within ourselves that allow us to ignite our own agency and the benevolent strengths that exist within us.
- First, we need to train in recognizing these inflection points. Then, we need to practice exercising our agency to show up in ways that benefit ourselves and others. Finally, we need to build the habit of recognizing and behaving in ways that align with our values until we gain proficiency.
What are these benevolent superpowers we each have within us? In short, they consist of the ability to be kind, calm, and clear, especially in difficult moments until the delta between who we want to be and who we are is shored up.
Superpower #1: Self-Awareness
- The ability to recognize one’s own emotions and their impact on self and others and to recognize how our emotions manifest within our body.
- The ability to notice the content of our own minds: our thinking, our feelings, our biases, any kind of mental movement whatsoever.
- The ability to recognize our mind’s capacity to be aware. In other words, awareness of awareness itself.
- Self-Awareness is the gateway and pre-requisite to all of the other Emotional Intelligence competencies and most importantly to basic human kindness, dignity, and respect.
Superpower #2: Focus
- The ability to selectively direct our attention. This superpower is essential in being a great listener and learner. If your mind is like a steel sieve, then retention of anything becomes a proposition of diminishing returns.
- Focus is essential to paying attention to the task at hand, whether it be brain surgery, driving, or really listening to another person.
- Our attention is famous for becoming distracted and wandering off. In order to bring our mind home again, we need to be able to recognize that the mind has wandered off to begin with.
- To build the muscle of bringing the mind home, we need to reinforce our cognitive control. We can do this through training the brain through practices like awareness of breath or even open awareness practice.
Superpower #3: Mindfulness
- The term “mindfulness” has its origins in the terms smrti (Sanskrit) and sati (Pali) and roughly translates as “to recall” or “to remember”. It is the aspect of self-awareness that allows us to remember how it is we want to show up, what it is we want to say or do, and what it is we definitely don’t want to say or do.
- Mindfulness is like the rudder of self-awareness. It ideally steers us on course and brings us back when we are start to veer off course.
- Once again, unless we want our minds to take us on a rudderless journey (those can be dangerous journeys in which we are hijacked and driven by our unconscious habits of mind), then we need to REMEMBER how we want to steer our internal rudder.
- Like the other superpowers, mindfulness takes real work, but can be strengthened with effort and diligence.
Superpower #4: Emotional Balance
- Emotional balance refers to our ability to manage our emotions, our actions, and our reactions in moments of internal or external turbulence.
- Emotional balance also speaks to how quickly we are triggered to begin with as well as how quickly we recover from a setback (technically defined as resilience).
- The ability to manage our emotions and reactions is virtually impossible if we lack one or more of the other three superpowers (self-awareness, focus, or mindfulness).
- It is easy to see why this kind of training should be mandatory for people in positions of power, like presidents, law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and the list goes on to include anyone who interacts and deals with humans—which is pretty much everyone.
Superpower #5: Compassion
- A genuine, heartfelt care for another being that spurs action.
- Compassion connects us to each other in a way we recognize our profound interconnection. Moreover, we can each train to expand our own capacity for compassion.
- In the ultimate expression of compassion, subject-object duality falls apart, simply dissolves and there is no ‘other’ or ‘us and them’ undermining our perception.
- If we saw everyone as our kind parent, our own child, or a beloved friend or family member, then we wouldn’t think twice before acting in their best interest or intervening on their behalf if any harm were to befall them.
In the spirit of making aspirations, which are intentions set into motion, each one creating an undeniable and unstoppable momentum, here are mine:
- May the families of George Floyd, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Jamar Clark, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Breonna Taylor, and countless others who have had their lives abruptly and brutally taken from them, find the support and love they need to heal and may the memory of those slain be held sacred in our hearts and honored.
- May we each make waking up a priority in every aspect of our lives.
- May we take accountability for the role we play in each other’s precious lives.
- May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
- May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
- May our aspirations to democratize EI come to fruition.
- May the causes and conditions to dismantle oppression come to fruition.
- May all beings awaken to their own true nature, beyond confusion.