The First Step To Emotional Intelligence

I’ve been mulling over two blog posts I had read last week.silhouette of head with brain diagram within it


It’s OK to Be on Your Way by Rachel Strella


13 Signs of High Emotional Intelligence by author Justin Bariso


Both articles crossed my radar thanks to tweets by two of my favorite Twitter friends, Rachel Strella and Dennis Shiao. Although the posts’ topics are different at face value, they possess a strong synergy.


Rachel’s post, It’s OK to Be on Your Way, touches on how many of us are in constant pursuit of doing more and being more. We become frustrated at our inability to achieve perfection. But we need to stop beating up on ourselves. We’re works in progress—and that’s OK.


13 Signs of High Emotional Intelligence, which Dennis had shared, discusses characteristics of people who possess a high level of emotional intelligence. (Of course, I immediately started contemplating how I measure up.) Several of the traits involve the capacity to cut others some slack when they do wrong or fall short, and the article specifically calls out “empathy.”


Putting It All Together


To have empathy (a critical component of emotional intelligence), we must see some of ourselves in others. So to accept and forgive the fallibility of others, don’t we first have to accept our own faults and stop being so tough on ourselves (as Rachel suggests)?


We’re all human. We have all made—and will continue to make—mistakes. We have (and probably will again):


  • Let insensitive words leave our mouths in moments of anger or frustration.
  • Talk behind someone’s back.
  • Look for what we can gain from a situation rather than what we can do for someone else.
  • Sometimes not put our best foot forward.
  • Not tell our partner or parents or children or friends how much we love and appreciate them.
  • Tell a little white lie (or possibly even a mind-blowing whopper).
  • Snap at our kids when they ask us a question while we’re working.
  • Forget to send a birthday card.
  • Not do what we said we would.
  • Judge others when we have no clue what it’s like to be in their shoes.


Yeah, we slip up sometimes.


I do. You do. And everyone else does.


If we realize that doesn’t make us failures or bad people, we can all be happier, more self-confident, and more emotionally intelligent.

Four Ways To Instantly Boost Your Self-Confidence

As a solopreneur, I’ve experienced moments when I’ve felt like I can take on any challenge—and moments when I’ve felt like I can’t do anything right.Confident woman with clenched fists


Like when I accepted an assignment to write birthday card copy. My confidence was shaken after spending far more hours than I anticipated on the project and after dealing with almost two weeks of ideas not flowing as naturally as I expected them to.


Other self-employed friends have told me they, too, have stretches of self-doubt that rattle their confidence.


When you find yourself questioning your capabilities and competency to perform to expectations (typically your own!), sometimes you need a little kick in the pants to stop you from kicking yourself.


Need to be kicked?


Here are four ways to instantly give your self-confidence a boost:

Revisit positive feedback from clients.

Re-read testimonials on your website or LinkedIn, or look at thank you cards and emails that you’ve saved. They serve as reminders of how much others appreciate you and respect your work.

Eat the frog.

I don’t mean this literally (blah!). What I’m suggesting is that you dig in and take care of a task you were avoiding either because you were intimidated by it or you were dreading it for some other reason. When you “eat the frog” before you tackle the rest of your to do list, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment—and relief. With the worst thing awaiting you that day out of the way, all else will seem easier.

Look back on how far you’ve come.

When you feel like you aren’t measuring up or haven’t accomplished enough, do a reality check. Focus on what you have achieved, rather than what you haven’t. Reflect on the new clients you’ve recently acquired and the long-term clients you’ve built relationships with, take stock of how far you’ve come with your social media presence and website, applaud yourself for how many blog posts you’ve written in the past year, congratulate yourself for being asked to join a prominent networking group, etc. You’ve made progress. That’s something to be proud of!

Help someone else.

There’s nothing like empowering someone else to give your own self-worth a boost. When you share insight and information to help others avoid pitfalls or improve their skills or knowledge, you remind yourself of the value you bring. Doing that can be as easy as emailing them an article about an issue they’ve been struggling with or giving them a quick phone call to share some golden nugget of valuable info you just discovered.


Not feeling confident kills motivation and productivity. Don’t let lack of self-confidence linger and overshadow your solopreneur super powers. Confidence, combined with hard work and continual effort to learn and grow, breeds success. You can’t get there without it.


How do you conquer lapses in self-confidence and bring your self-esteem back up to speed?


Bonus! Here’s a list of some other helpful articles from some stellar sources about self-confidence:


Confidence Breeds Success—And It Can Be Taught via Forbes

Science Says Overconfidence Key To Success via Inc.

9 Ways To Show More Confidence in Business via Entrepreneur

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What To Do When You’re Wishy-Washy About Writing About Yourself

Even writers who seem adept at writing about any topic can find themselves at a loss for words when it’s time to write aboutDoubt themselves. So, if you get stumped when faced with crafting a bio for a guest post, or creating a Linkedin profile, or writing content for your website, know that you’re not alone!

So solopreneurs, why is it so doggone difficult to write about ourselves and our accomplishments?

It makes us feel uncomfortable.
Bye, bye, comfort zone! A lot of people don’t enjoy shining the spotlight on themselves. While you don’t have to happily bask in the glow of drawing attention to yourself, as a small business owner you occasionally need to put yourself center stage. Sorry. It comes with the territory if you want to succeed.

We don’t want to sound like we’re bragging.
Humility can be an admirable trait, but not if it prevents you from rightfully highlighting your capabilities, skills and accomplishments.  If you’re honest and not obnoxious when sharing what you can do and what you’ve done, it’s not bragging. With the right tone, language and approach, you can communicate your best self without sounding self-centered.

We don’t know where to begin – or end.
So how much is too much to share with readers? Think about relevance to your audience and about how much content is appropriate for the forum in which it’s being shared. While you’re writing about  yourself, put yourself in your readers’ shoes and think about what they will find interesting and intriguing about you. You want them to respect you – and relate to you. Regarding how much content you should include, check out what’s the norm for the particular type of piece you’re writing. You can get away with sharing more on the About page of your website than you can in the bio that’s included at the end of a guest blog post.

We don’t think we’re worth writing about.
If this is at the root of your writer’s block, it’s time to get a reality check. Ask clients and colleagues what makes you someone they enjoy doing business with.  What is it about you and your services that brings value to them? And if you’re too shy to ask them directly, refer to the testimonials you’ve collected or ask them to write recommendations of you on Linkedin. You’re worth it – and if you won’t take your own word for it, take someone else’s.

Still not feeling warm and fuzzy about writing about yourself?  Then you might consider contracting a freelance writer to help you or enlist the assistance of a friend who is a good communicator. Getting a third party involved who can objectively sort through all the great things you have going for you and project them effectively in a compelling (but not self-absorbed) way can take the pressure off of you. Plus, it might give you a fresh perspective about you as a professional and bring you awareness of strengths and competitive advantages you might be overlooking.

What about you? What types of self-featuring writing has been most difficult for you?

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom /

Your Inner Critic: When to listen; When to ignore

Last night at my daughter’s Girl Scout troop’s meeting, the leader challenged the girls to think about their “inner critic”.Thumbs up. Thumbs down. What does it tell them? How does it make them feel? When does it speak the loudest?

As I helped the girls gain an understanding of what exactly an “inner critic” is, it made me think a bunch about my own inner critic – that voice inside that judges and assigns value to all that I say and do as a solopreneur, volunteer, mom and wife. My guess is that you have one of those voices, too – one that can either pick you up or drag you down as you fulfill the many roles that you play every day.

Our inner critics are both a blessing and a curse. We need them to will us to strive and accomplish, but there are times when we’re better off not listening to them. They are the proverbial “double-edged sword.”

When to listen…

Heed the feedback from your inner critic when it motivates you to learn, grow and improve your skills. When that voice inside you tells you, “Hey, you can do better if…,” it’s being helpful and encouraging. By all means, listen!

Also, learn to listen to your inner critic when it says, “Great work!” If you’re proud of how you handled a project or have experienced success in something, then feel at ease with your pride. And don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments with others – we all love a great success story!

Feel uncomfortable when others recognize or a compliment you? Don’t suppress your inner critic’s desire to bask in the glow. Acknowledge the shout out and don’t feel bad about feeling important. It’s OK to be in the spotlight – enjoy it! You done good!

When NOT to listen…

If your inner critic picks you apart for every little insignificant foible, it’s time to distance yourself from it. Indeed, that’s easier said than done, but it CAN be done. Surely, there are some things that you’re doing well. Write them down. Read them aloud. And remind yourself that you’ve got skills and talents. Certainly take inventory of what you need to improve, too. But rather than dwell in self-depreciation, take stock of how much of an impact those deficits really make in your business and formulate a plan to overcome those that are mission critical.

Another time to ignore your inner critic is when it constantly compares you to other people. You are you; they are them. Build on your own strengths rather than attempt to emulate someone else by fixing all that your inner critic thinks is broken.

You see, your inner critic has a bit of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde persona rooted in it. There will be times when you’ll have more control over it than others depending on the situation and your frame of mind. The key to making it an asset rather than a liability is to be consciously aware of what it’s saying and recognizing when you should listen – and when you should tell it to shut its pie hole.

Your turn! How much influence does your inner critic have on you? Has it ever prevented you from doing something you wanted to do in your business – or prompted you to do something you really didn’t want to do?

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