Emotional Intelligence: Optimism

There are three universally recognized models of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the field of Applied Psychology:

  • Mayer-Salovey—defines EI as the ability to understand and leverage emotions to facilitate thinking
  • Daniel Goleman—views EI as an assortment of emotional and social competencies that enable managerial performance and leadership
  • Reuven Bar-On—describes EI as an array of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and behaviors that impact intelligent behavior

As you might imagine, each of these frameworks documents independent research and offers unique perspective. What might catch you by surprise (at least a little) is the overlap or interdependence of each perspective, in combination with the collegial respect and support each contributor has for the other two. A point of primary convergence rests with the foundational role of Optimism.

Simply stated, Optimism is the cornerstone of Emotional Intelligence. It is the dimension that characterizes the distinction between IQ and EQ. As we know, IQ is a talent or a trait (or in some cases a burden) that is innate. We are born with “it” and it changes very little (if at all) during the seasons of our lives.

Comparatively, research has demonstrated time and time again that an individual’s EQ can be significantly enhanced. They can improve their Self-Awareness, or Assertiveness or their ability to demonstrate Empathy or Impulse Control. Improvement in those realms is a function of two things:

  1. Desire— “You ‘gotta’ want it!” Change does not happen if it represents limited benefit(s) to the person doing the changing!
  2. Belief— “You ‘gotta’ see it!” Change does not happen without hope in the face of adversity (this is where Optimism plays its crucible role).

Optimism is the ability to remain positive despite setbacks, and (as we know) setbacks are the obstacles that inevitably litter the path of change. Perhaps even beyond that and in the spirit of all that has been published by Carol Dweck on Growth Mindset, Optimism welcomes setbacks! It views obstacles or impediments as the steppingstones of achievement. The value of this perspective is far-reaching for us all on so very many levels because:

  • Without Optimism … there is no hope
  • Without Hope … there is no change
  • Without Change … there is no progress!