Find Out Why – Put a Light on It


Identify & move

Let’s talk about you for a minute.

You know that feeling you get when you see Bob?

That pit of your stomach feeling? That ugh!

You won’t give Bob a fair shake until you name “it.” We aren’t robots, and emotionally you won’t let whatever that slight was “go,” especially if you carry it.

You have two options – stop working with Bob, or find out what that feeling is and resolve it.

The good news is, addressing the issue is much easier once you find it.

How do you show it? Write it out. Get that feeling out.

Supreme Court Justice Brandeis once said, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

After the feeling is out, think about yourself.  What causes you to have those feelings?

Resolve them.

What about Bob?

Bob has nothing to do with it. Your feelings are up to you.

If you intend to lead, you have to master yourself.

Venting Leaves A Bad Memory

Venting doesn’t move us forward; it keeps us in place.

People tell you it’s ok to vent after a terrible event.
Someone says “Let it out, it’s ok,” while you wax poetically about some wrong.
It felt good. You got to say all the things they did (all while avoiding your hand in the situation) and your friend (with limited information) let you know how right you are.
Your brain marks this memory, and off you go, using your vent story as the memory of what happened.  This imprint is problematic.
  • It is difficult to understand the lessons learned with a self-told favorable story.
  • A friend supporting you backs up this version of events, making it that much harder to go back to things as they were.
 So here is a quick exercise on venting.


When you want to “vent” do the following:
  1. Go to a quiet place. Sit with yourself for a while; the next step is difficult.
  2. Write a timeline of events, stripping out all emotion.
  3. By each event, write what you did to cause that point to happen and write the other person.
  4. Leave it for an hour or so.
  5. Go back and write what you did. This second pass is critical because there is a high chance that the first pass sounds like venting.
  6. Find the lessons on your end.
This exercise is difficult and venting is not. Venting, however, doesn’t help you understand or make you better. Taking the time to do this exercise improves your decision-making, which means fewer opportunities to vent overall.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

You always have time.

When you watch an action movie, the hero always does one thing before going into that room filled with bad guys.

We see it help with their success, yet it is so easy to neglect. 

What is it?


Whenever something bad happens to someone I know, the first thing I do is tell them to breathe.

There are always questions, depending on the level of anger. All of the questions they ask eventually lead to “What does breathing do for the situation?”

Breathing doesn’t do anything “tactical.” It, alone, won’t save your life.

Breathing won’t:

  • Put money in your bank account.
  • Get your significant other to call you back.
  • Stop your boss from firing you.

It’s about your strategy moving forward. Strategy informs tactics, tactics inform emotion.  Breathing gives you the opportunity to improve the strategic mindset by doing several things all with one action.

Breathing helps:

  • Slow down the situation.
  • Take control from the reptilian brain (fight or flight).
  • Increase empathy for the other side.

By breathing, our hero makes the right call. Help yourself make the right call by taking a second to breathe.

The Garlic Problem, Part 2

Our emotions play a role.

Yesterday I laid out the Garlic Problem, or what our options are when we smell of garlic.

There were rational options, and then there was running away  as fast as we could.

You say:

  • “I would never run away from the table.”
  • “I would know they don’t want me gone.”

The example yesterday sounds ridiculous, but it’s a game that we play every day. Our fight or flight instincts always have a say in everything we do.

So what are we supposed to do here, ignore it?

No. I have bad news, every time you just ignore the game, you accumulate emotional debt. (emotional debt is the after effect of an emotion.)  You ever watch someone scream at a printer? That’s emotional debt trying to collect.

We have to reconcile the idea of emotions matter, and they exist. We can’t ignore them, that leads to other problems. We have to connect with them, listen, and then understand that we can say “no.”

Then you can wash your hands, and get back to the conversation.

“It’s Easier Said Than Done”

I hate empty phrases

An empty phrase is a phrase that someone uses to dress up emotion. There is no substance behind it, just a place where something like an excuse can kick back, relax, and spare someone’s ego the hassle of doing something that it doesn’t want to do. It’s a way to make an excuse sound plausible.

They usually come out charged and passionate. When you take a look at them, their emptiness appears, and you realize that you just heard a hot pile of nothing.

One of the empty phrases I hear most often is “It’s easier said than done.” I heard it because I often said it. 

I turn it on myself first

I used to say it a lot. It rolls off the tongue. It felt accepted because it’s the first rationalization I can think of.  It changes the conversation in a subtle way. What started off as a creative conversation begins to move into the world of “why not” instead of “why.”

I recognized the phrase as an out. Subconsciously, it felt safe. What I later came to realize is that the reason it felt safe is because I used it to shield myself from the mental and emotional labor that comes from something that might not work. If I sensed failure, I would turn try to turn it away with word tricks from my subconscious trying to shield itself from the fear.

That mental and emotional labor is usually the hardest part because you put your ego on the line. Victory is hard to quantify.

Words matter so don’t let them change you

It’s on my hated phrase/word list because what we say and how we say things matter. There is no communication path faster from thought to speech (sometimes we can’t even stop ourselves). The phrase “easier said than done” is a way to deflect from the work that needs doing. If you find yourself thinking that, or even saying it, take a minute when you can, and get to the real reason. It will make you more effective.


You Feel How You Feel – So Do They


Listening is critical to get to feel.

Not just to hear what the other person is saying audibly, but how that other person is feeling. Learning how to deal with Emotional Intelligence isn’t just a nice to have, but a need if you really want to get to know people.  It builds trust in relationships, and that is critical when you want things to go deeper than the surface. You feel how you feel, and conversation bares it out.

The other side of that honesty is that emotions now feel like they have a better place to release.

I think most of us get confused about emotions because when we see them from other people, it comes form a place of exhaustion. The great thing about being in a place of trust is that those emotions are coming out to let you, the listener, get a 360 view of how the other person feels.

Don’t make this mistake.

No matter how you hear it – it is not your place to decide if its right or wrong. The minute you cross that line, you lose the trust and now superficiality comes right back. The key is not to get defensive, even if it’s about you, and just listen.

The last thing you want is people closing up. If that happens, that energy sticks around, and it just becomes resentment.

Recognize it takes courage.

Know that the idea of showing how you feel is scary, and ultimately leaves you vulnerable. The best move, as someone listening, is to just sit and understand. The emotions at play let you in on a deeper truth, and ultimately give way to a better relationship.

Judging people might feel good in the moment, but ultimately, the things you feel for others end up landing back on you. This holds true even more if this is a relationship, business or personal, that is important.  It’s not up to you to decide if its right or wrong. It’s just up to you to listen.



The Outro: Emotional Intelligence

At the beginning of 2015, I decided to make every month have a theme. For June, I decided on emotional intelligence. My main goal was to understand myself more, and be able to temper myself to understand others better. I often censor myself, trying to fit in, and I pay for it by not being able to communicate how I feel and be honest with myself.  I missed the opportunity to connect with people by locking any part of myself away that didn’t seem right. It is like putting a limiter on a burner.

Over the last month I realized how much of a journey this is. I find myself, a month later, at the start of understanding, but I am excited to move forward and learn.


  • Meditation: I have restarted and begun to meditate . Much like when I restarted this blog, I started small, and just kept my nose down and started. It has been a struggle, but I have learned a lot about myself just by sitting in silence for 20 minutes a day. I am not good at it by any means, but it is a skill I want to continue to pursue. It helps my emotional intelligence by making me slow down and understand my thought process.
  • 5 Minute Journal: I have begun to write in this. It hasn’t been as consistent as the Meditation, but I get to it every two days or so. It is starting to get hard to write what I am grateful for, but I think that is part of the challenge. When I do it, it adds to my emotional intelligence by forcing me to think of what I want to do and what I have done.


  • My GMAT Study: I have let this slide completely. I have to take this up again in earnest. It is a reminder of how much work grad school is.
  • Thank You’s: I haven’t written a Thank You note this month. This is something I want to take in as a daily practice, but I find it hard to steady myself to do it. Even a simple twitter Thank You is hard to do because I am afraid of how it’s received.
  • Listening: My listening skills are horrible. I am becoming aware of them and it bothers me how often I wait for my time to talk.
  • Note-taking Skills: I need to get these ASAP.

Important Posts:




My emotional intelligence is better today than where I started at the beginning of the month.  meditation practice and journal are growing. There is a baseline that is developing here for me to grow on.