I was having a conversation the other day with a teammate of mine. As we talked through a problem we wanted to solve, he said something interesting to me that got me thinking. He casually mentioned that I had the “EQ” in our team….the emotional intelligence.
I’ve always been a sentimental person… frankly, a very emotional one. And while I believe everyone feels things deeply, I think there are some people in the world that seem to feel “more”. It’s the tender hearted among us: those of us who find our eyes welling up with tears during AT&T commercials or who know during any Disney movie about that one moment – that one song – that you dread because you know the waterworks are on the way.
Being emotional is a blessing and a curse. In your personal relationships, it bonds to closer to your family. You don’t leave anything unsaid as your heart speaks for your mind. In professional situations, those emotions can be perceived as a barrier to advancement. You may get frustrated easily. Your disappointment is tangible. So, you have to spend time learning to mask those emotions… hiding your true nature. With your emotions in check, you project an aura of confidence. Of strength.
But when did genuine emotion become a sign of weakness? When did it become a drawback as opposed to a mark of bravery?
It’s brave to be genuine. It’s brave to be vulnerable.
It’s brave to open your heart to others, risking pain and rejection on the hope that you can make something better. It takes true grit, true strength of will to be the one who may take the bullet for someone else.
So many people mask their vulnerability. They mask their fear. Safe in their cocoon, they take no risks… peering only far enough to see what they want to see and no more.
It reminds me of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” Those among us who hide our emotions stare only at our own shadows, reasoning that we know the world we see, yet seeing no more than our own reflection. Understanding no more than we allow ourselves to feel.
Then, there are those brave souls among us who embrace our emotions in work and in life. We are freed from the cave and begin to walk into the light. It is painful. It hurts. It’s confusing. And it gets easier. Will we like what we see or feel? Perhaps. But regardless of whether we’re bruised along the way, we see more clearly. We are enlightened. We no longer live in a thin veil of reality, but instead are bathed in the sun. Living in the world of what is and what can be, we lead with hope and possibility.
Being an emotional person hurts. We are often let down. And yet, we are free. Free to learn. Free to love. And free to lead.
I believe in freedom. I’m just bringing a box of Kleenex along with me.
How about you?