Why Emotionally Intelligent People Embrace The Rule of First Things First

I have a recurring nightmare. It goes like this: I’m 16 years old again, back on my old newspaper route. But there’s a major problem: I’m late. I’ve overslept. Now it’s 6:43, and I have 150 newspapers to deliver by 7:00 a.m. If I don’t, I start getting complaints. It’s an impossible task. A wave of immense anxiety immediately follows. Followed by a feeling of pressure, all over my body.

At this point, I usually wake up in a cold sweat–thankful that all of this was simply a dream, until … I realize the dream is related to a real-life situation. The true source of the anxiety, and a real-life feeling of “overwhelm-ed-ness.” After facing this situation over and over, I’ve discovered a rule that helps me to push through those negative feelings, move forward, and do what I need to do.

I like to call it “first things first.”

First things first

When I find myself in an “impossible paper route situation,” I tell myself:

Focus on first things first.

In other words, I narrow my view so as to focus on the first few things I need to do. This allows me to avoid getting overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of the situation, or the huge mountain of tasks before me.

Instead, I make a new list of only two or three things that I need to get done that day.

Then, I look only at the first one, and start chipping away.

First things first has many benefits, but here are four of them:

1. It keeps you moving.

When you have more work than you can handle, the temptation is to not do anything.

But by creating a new list of just two or three tasks, things look manageable again. You regain control of your emotions, allowing you to once more be productive.

2. It builds momentum.

Think about that feeling you experience once you finish a task. Then another. And another.

Next thing you know, you’re hooked. You see results, so you keep going–because at this point it’s easier to keep going than it is to stop. This is what famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as “flow”–that highly focused mental state conducive to productivity.

Once you start building momentum …

3. You see more clearly.

In my nightmare, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, there is no tunnel. Just an unscalable mountain.

But once you start building momentum, you build the tunnel. Once you make enough progress, you can clearly see the path forward.

And once you see the path, it really starts to get good. Because now …

4. You believe.

Things are no longer dark.

The impossible task is no longer impossible.

Seeing the path forward turns into hope, and hope turns into reality.

Following the rule of first things first is how:

Entrepreneurs turn complex problems into simple solutions–and then build companies out of them.

Championship sports teams claw their way back from huge deficits.

Singers turn melodies into albums.

Authors turn words into books.

Artists turn sketches into masterpieces.

And paperboys finish their routes–even when they get very late starts.

Source: Why Emotionally Intelligent People Embrace the Rule of First Things First | Inc.com

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Critics:

Motivation is what explains why people or animals initiate, continue or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-directed behavior. It is often held that different mental states compete with each other and that only the strongest state determines behavior.

This means that we can be motivated to do something without actually doing it. The paradigmatic mental state providing motivation is desire. But various other states, like beliefs about what one ought to do or intentions, may also provide motivation.

Various competing theories have been proposed concerning the content of motivational states. They are known as content theories and aim to describe what goals usually or always motivate people. Abraham Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs and the ERG theory, for example, posit that humans have certain needs, which are responsible for motivation.

Some of these needs, like for food and water, are more basic than other needs, like for respect from others. On this view, the higher needs can only provide motivation once the lower needs have been fulfilled. Behaviorist theories try to explain behavior solely in terms of the relation between the situation and external, observable behavior without explicit reference to conscious mental states.

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There Are Two Types of Happiness & We’re Chasing The Wrong One

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We’re always chasing something—be it a promotion, a new car, or a significant other. This leads to the belief that, “When (blank) happens, I’ll finally be happy.”

While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn’t last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.

The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting.

Happiness is synthetic—you either create it, or you don’t. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you:

1. They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures

By nature, we fall into routines. In some ways, this is a good thing. It saves precious brainpower and creates comfort. However, sometimes you get so caught up in your routine that you fail to appreciate the little things in life. Happy people know how important it is to savor the taste of their meal, revel in the amazing conversation they just had, or even just step outside to take a deep breath of fresh air.

2. They exercise

Getting your body moving for as little as ten minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Happy people schedule regular exercise and follow through on it because they know it pays huge dividends for their mood.

3. They spend money on other people

Research shows that spending money on other people makes you much happier than spending it on yourself. This is especially true of small things that demonstrate effort, such as going out of your way to buy your friend a book that you know they will like.

4. They surround themselves with the right people

Happiness spreads through people. Surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity, and it’s flat-out fun. Hanging around negative people has the opposite effect. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people.

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5. They stay positive

Bad things happen to everyone, including happy people. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, happy people reflect on everything they’re grateful for. Then they find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to experience negative events. Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.

6. They get enough sleep

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep for improving your mood, focus, and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, removing toxic proteins that accumulate during the day as byproducts of normal neuronal activity. This ensures that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your energy, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Happy people make sleep a priority, because it makes them feel great and they know how lousy they feel when they’re sleep deprived.

7. They have deep conversations

Happy people know that happiness and substance go hand-in-hand. They avoid gossip, small talk, and judging others. Instead they focus on meaningful interactions. They engage with other people on a deeper level, because they know that doing so feels good, builds an emotional connection, and is an interesting way to learn.

8. They help others

Taking the time to help people not only makes them happy, but it also makes you happy. In a Harvard study, employees who helped others were ten times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. As long as you make certain that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, helping others is sure to have a positive influence on your mood.

9. They make an effort to be happy

No one wakes up feeling happy every day and supremely happy people are no exception. They just work at it harder than everyone else. They know how easy it is to get sucked into a routine where you don’t monitor your emotions or actively try to be happy and positive. Happy people constantly evaluate their moods and make decisions with their happiness in mind.

10. They do things in person

Happy people only let technology do their talking when absolutely necessary. The human brain is wired for in-person interaction, so happy people will jump at the chance to drive across town to see a friend or meet face-to-face because it makes them feel good.

11. They have a growth mindset

People’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged, because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. This makes them happier because they are better at handling difficulties. They also outperform those with a fixed mindset because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

Happiness can be tough to maintain, but investing in the right habits pays off. Adopting even a few of the habits from this list will make a big difference in your mood.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

Dr. Travis Bradberry
Travis Bradberry is the co-author of the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and co-founder of TalentSmart, which provides emotional intelligence tests and training to corporate clients.
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Why Attitude Is More Important Than IQ

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When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people blessed with brains are inevitably going to leave the rest of us in the dust. But new research from Stanford University will change your mind (and your attitude).

Psychologist Carol Dweck has spent her entire career studying attitude and performance, and her latest study shows that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ.

Dweck found that people’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

Common sense would suggest that having ability, like being smart, inspires confidence. It does, but only while the going is easy. The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People with a growth mindset welcome setbacks with open arms.

According to Dweck, success in life is all about how you deal with failure. She describes the approach to failure of people with the growth mindset this way,

“Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”

Regardless of which side of the chart you fall on, you can make changes and develop a growth mindset. What follows are some strategies that will fine-tune your mindset and help you make certain it’s as growth oriented as possible.

Don’t stay helpless. We all hit moments when we feel helpless. The test is how we react to that feeling. We can either learn from it and move forward or let it drag us down. There are countless successful people who would have never made it if they had succumbed to feelings of helplessness: Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas,” Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a TV anchor in Baltimore for being “too emotionally invested in her stories,” Henry Ford had two failed car companies prior to succeeding with Ford, and Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC’s Cinematic Arts School multiple times. Imagine what would have happened if any of these people had a fixed mindset. They would have succumbed to the rejection and given up hope. People with a growth mindset don’t feel helpless because they know that in order to be successful, you need to be willing to fail hard and then bounce right back.

Be passionate. Empowered people pursue their passions relentlessly. There’s always going to be someone who’s more naturally talented than you are, but what you lack in talent, you can make up for in passion. Empowered people’s passion is what drives their unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Warren Buffett recommends finding your truest passions using, what he calls, the 5/25 technique: Write down the 25 things that you care about the most. Then, cross out the bottom 20. The remaining 5 are your true passions. Everything else is merely a distraction.

Take action. It’s not that people with a growth mindset are able to overcome their fears because they are braver than the rest of us; it’s just that they know fear and anxiety are paralyzing emotions and that the best way to overcome this paralysis is to take action. People with a growth mindset are empowered, and empowered people know that there’s no such thing as a truly perfect moment to move forward. So why wait for one? Taking action turns all your worry and concern about failure into positive, focused energy.

Then go the extra mile (or two). Empowered people give it their all, even on their worst days. They’re always pushing themselves to go the extra mile. One of Bruce Lee’s pupils ran three miles every day with him. One day, they were about to hit the three-mile mark when Bruce said, “Let’s do two more.” His pupil was tired and said, “I’ll die if I run two more.” Bruce’s response? “Then do it.” His pupil became so angry that he finished the full five miles. Exhausted and furious, he confronted Bruce about his comment, and Bruce explained it this way: “Quit and you might as well be dead. If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there; you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

If you aren’t getting a little bit better each day, then you’re most likely getting a little worse—and what kind of life is that?

Expect results. People with a growth mindset know that they’re going to fail from time to time, but they never let that keep them from expecting results. Expecting results keeps you motivated and feeds the cycle of empowerment. After all, if you don’t think you’re going to succeed, then why bother?

Be flexible. Everyone encounters unanticipated adversity. People with an empowered, growth-oriented mindset embrace adversity as a means for improvement, as opposed to something that holds them back. When an unexpected situation challenges an empowered person, they flex until they get results.

Don’t complain when things don’t go your way. Complaining is an obvious sign of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset looks for opportunity in everything, so there’s no room for complaints.

Bringing It All Together

By keeping track of how you respond to the little things, you can work every day to keep yourself on the right side of the chart above.

Do you have a growth mindset? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I am the author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart, a consultancy that serves more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies and is the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training (www.TalentSmart.com). My books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. I’ve written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review. I’m a world-renowned expert in emotional intelligence who speaks regularly in corporate and public settings. Example engagements include Intel, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Fortune Brands, the Fortune Growth Summit, The Conference Board: Learning from Legends, and Excellence in Government. I hold a dual Ph.D. in clinical and industrial-organizational psychology. I received my bachelor of science in clinical psychology from the University of California – San Diego.

Source: Why Attitude Is More Important Than IQ

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How Do You Steer Through Turbulent Waters? Five Steps To Successfully Navigate Conflict At Work – Jay Sullivan

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Conflict is part of life. Most of us avoid conflict when we can, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable. Early in our careers, when we feel powerless relative to those around us, we tend to deal with conflict by ducking, dodging or deferring, knowing that we don’t have much leverage to push back. But as we progress in our careers, we gain clout, credibility and control, and our approach evolves. How can we handle conflict more effectively, regardless of where we are on the seniority spectrum? Let’s start by defining terms. For the purposes of this piece, “conflict” means a situation where two or more people believe strongly in differing paths and a certain stubbornness…………….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysullivan/2018/11/15/how-do-you-steer-through-turbulent-waters-five-steps-to-successfully-navigate-conflict-at-work/#63292f1850c2

 

 

 

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What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Compassion – Carolyn Gregoire

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Mounting evidence of the impact of contemplative practices like meditation (which we now know can, quite literally, rewire the brain) are finally bringing modern science up to speed with ancient wisdom. Mindfulness and compassion — the practices of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment, and extending a loving awareness to others — are part of every religion and wisdom tradition, and we’re at last beginning to understand the profound impact that they have on the brain, says psychiatrist and mindfulness expert Dr. Dan Siegel………..

Read more: http://sco.lt/9FLw5R

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Train Your Brain To Go Positive Instead Of Negative – Loretta Breuning

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Our brain is not designed to create happiness, as much as we wish it were so. Our brain evolved to promote survival. It saves the happy chemicals (dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) for opportunities to meet a survival need, and only releases them in short spurts which are quickly metabolized. This motivates us to keep taking steps that stimulate our happy chemicals. You can end up with a lot of unhappy chemicals in your quest to stimulate the happy ones, especially near the end of a stressful workday……..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2016/12/21/how-to-train-your-brain-to-go-positive-instead-of-negative/#707a40525a58

 

 

 

 

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How To Accept Process & Learn From Failure – Chris Myers

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Take a close enough look at any life of note, and you’ll quickly discover a legacy of failure. However, it’s important to distinguish between failed experiments and failure in the Platonic ideal sense of the word. Experimental failure happens when you try something, and it doesn’t work the way you intended. We’ve all experienced this brand of failure before. Perhaps you once worked up the courage to ask someone out, and you were turned down. Or, maybe you launched a new product on the market only to be met with utter silence. Regardless of the form it takes, this kind of experimental failure hurts, but it still has a silver lining. These experiences enable us to learn from our mistakes, find new solutions, and grow as individuals……

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrismyers/2018/09/18/how-to-accept-process-and-learn-from-failure/#39c393479ff6

 

 

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18 Things You Need To Give Up To Become A High Achieving Person – Brianna Wiest

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A secret about success is that it is just as much about what you give up as what you gain. Are you willing to give up late nights out for late nights in working? Are you willing to turn a deaf ear to blind criticisms? Are you willing to listen to helpful ones? Are you going to be able to give up the doubt, the resistance, the uncertainty, the avoidance mechanisms? As Mastin Kipp says: Are you willing to live as other people won’t, so maybe you can live as other people can’t? High achieving people understand that the foundation of life is the white space – and that because our energy is limited each day, what we spend it on will define us in the future…….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/briannawiest/2018/03/20/18-things-you-need-to-give-up-to-become-a-high-achieving-person/#7f172e1211fa

 

 

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10 Quotes that Will Change the Way You See and Treat People Today – Marc Chernoff

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During my competitive cross-country running days it wasn’t uncommon for me to run five miles at five o’clock in the morning and another nine miles at nine o’clock at night, five days a week. I was competitive. I wanted to win races. And I was smart enough to know that if I dedicated myself to extra training, while my opponents were lounging or socializing, I would often be one step ahead of them when we crossed the finish line. When I first started these early-morning and late-night runs, the experience was pretty overwhelming. My body didn’t want to cooperate—it ached and cramped up……

Read more: http://www.marcandangel.com/2018/01/21/10-quotes-that-will-change-the-way-you-see-and-treat-people-today

 

 

 

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30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself – Marc Chernoff

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Our previous article, 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself, was well received by most of our readers, but several of you suggested that we follow it up with a list of things to start doing.  In one reader’s words, “I would love to see you revisit each of these 30 principles, but instead of presenting us with a ‘to-don’t’ list, present us with a ‘to-do’ list that we all can start working on today, together.”  Some folks, such as readers Danny Head and Satori Agape, actually took it one step further and emailed us their own revised ‘to-do’ versions of the list…..

Read more: http://www.marcandangel.com/2011/12/18/30-things-to-start-doing-for-yourself

 

 

 

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