This post focuses on the first competence of Emotional Intelligence*, Emotional Self-awareness (contained within the Self-Awareness Domain):
Leaders high in emotional self-awareness are attuned to their inner signals, recognizing how their feelings affect them and their job performance. They are attuned to their guiding values and can often intuit the best course of action, seeing the big picture in a complex situation. Emotionally self-aware leaders can be candid and authentic, able to speak openly about their emotions or with conviction about their guiding vision.
The above speaks for itself in many ways. What I can add is that when your thoughts are jumbled and manic, it is near-impossible to attune to your inner signals.
Being emotionally self-aware is not something you decide to do, it something you become, by: 1) quieting and mastering the content and pace of your thoughts; 2) getting clear on your values and beliefs and 3) intentionally listening for the slight, and often faint, clues coming from your emotions (some people call them “gut-feelings,” or “inklings”).
What is important to understand is that these signals, and the wisdom they contain, are vital to making wise and sustainable decisions. I have long said that the lessons we need to learn keep appearing until we learn them. We often miss the opportunity to learn vital lessons when the clues we need to make wise decisions are drown out by the cacophony of the urgent and trivial.
What to do? Begin to bring some measure of peace, and calmness, to your thoughts. There are different ways to do this, none more effective than meditation. There are myriad resources available to help one learn to meditate (books, audio-programs, workshops, retreats, . . . ); choose one and begin a practice. I assure you consistent, diligent practice will pay huge dividends — at work, and home.
* I am using the Goleman/Boyatzis/McKee model of Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, Daniel and Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee. Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002. 254-256)