In our last post we introduced the subject of wisdom and emotional intelligence.

We defined it as ‘ capability in the complexities of life when the rules don’t help.’ We need wisdom and emotional intelligence for questions like:

Should I marry this person or not?
Should I hire that person or take on this job?
Should I speak up and challenge what is said or is it more appropriate to say nothing?


There is no straightforward textbook answer to questions like those – you need wisdom and emotional intelligence.

Wisdom and emotional intelligence also explain that other paradox of life. Why is it some people can do very well at school or academically, but in the world of work, or generally in life be so weak? And this can apply in other ways as well – being so capable professionally and yet such a failure at home or inter-personally.

The entrepreneur Richard Branson illustrates this. At age 16 his school report stated, ‘Either this boy will become a multimillionaire or he will end up in prison.’ There was something about his gifts and abilities that showed a certain genius which needed to be appropriately channelled.

In the world of work, people are hired for their technical skills, but it is their emotional intelligence skills that enable them to progress and get promoted.

When it comes to emotional intelligence there is both good news and bad news.

The bad news is that overall levels of emotional intellgience seem to be declining. Overall levels among children of depression, withdrawal, anxiety, attention deficit and delinquency all seem to be on the rise.

However, on the plus side, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be taught and learnt. Through the process of thinking, reflection and self awareness (see part 1 and part 2) we can learn and grow from our past experiences.

Tools to help us enhance our emotional intelligence include:

1. Getting clarity on what it is we want to achieve and do.

What is it I actually want and where do I want to go? Is what is happening in my life something I actually want and how much is in my control? What do I take responsibility for ?

2. Understand yourself.

In order to know what it is you want you also need to know what is important to you – your values. What is most important to me about my job, my family, my hobbies, my interests, my personal and spiritual development?

3. Manage your moods.

This is about identifying your emotional states as they happen, understanding how they can affect you and then using emotions purposefully and appropriately to bring about meaningful goals. In the blog post entitled Time Management  part 2 I talk about the role of appropriate energy management.

4. Understand others.

The ability to see the world through the eyes of another person is not automatic. It includes learning how to listen appropriately, to build consensus and rapport and manage conflict in a constructive way. As John Maxwell likes to say, ‘No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.’ Finding a path through conflict also includes the 101% rule – find the 1 % you can agree on and give it your 100% attention.

5. Self- motivation.

How can I pace myself for the long haul and keep persevering in spite of setbacks and obstacles that will invariably come my way?

As I hope you can see this is a huge area. However, I invariably find myself going back to ancient wisdom in the Old Testament book of Proverbs. The following provocative quotes are taken from the Message translation of the original Hebrew:

“Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.” (1:7)

“A simple life in the Fear-of-God is better than a rich life with a ton of headache.” (15:16)

‘Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living – first you learn humility, then you experience glory.” (15:33)

How about you?

What are your thoughts and questions about developing wisdom and skills in the art of living life?

Feel free to put your thoughts and comments below.