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051: Can Developing Emotional Intelligence Lead to Accessing More Flow?

podcast Jun 18, 2021

In our search for happiness, meaningfulness, and peak performance, positive psychology has shown us that the quickest way there is to value other people. Our overall life satisfaction isn’t a solo pursuit, we bring along those around us we love and consider as part of our inner circle. Cue Robert DiNiro and Ben Stiller... Anyway.  

For me, this is my wife and 2 kids and the rest of my family and others who provide social support. This is what the good life and a high flow lifestyle are built on and we can train this through practicing active listening and empathy.  

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is how we understand, express, and regulate our emotions, both towards ourselves and others. I truly believe EQ and soft skills are what is going to be the necessary skills of the future. It’s not only self-awareness and self-control but it’s the interpersonal skills needed to navigate relationships, both personal and professional.   

Hard skills are unfortunately what schools are intent on continuing to focus on teaching. Mainly because they are easily testable, but these are the exact things that we can find the answers for quickly with modern technology and the type of skills that are being replaced by computers and AI.  

 Research was conducted around the idea of how the amount of emotional intelligence you have can be a good indicator of your flow proneness. In a paper titled “Emotional intelligence predicts individual differences in proneness for flow among musicians: the role of control and distributed attention” they found that: 

“Daily amount of practice and trait emotional intelligence were found to be significant predictors of flow experiences, whereas age of first piano lessons, years of music training, age, and gender were not predictive... However, flow was not correlated with high achievement in piano performance.” 

So to reiterate, the amount of practice, and I’d add that it’s an intentional practice, and your emotional intelligence level strongly correlate with your ability to access flow.  

“Pianists tended to experience flow when playing music in a familiar musical style, and especially from their favorite style, suggesting a relationship between familiarity, preference, and flow.” 

In essence, it’s a combination of preparation and effort.  

“For performers to reach a flow state, attention needs to be effortlessly distributed across multiple levels in the control hierarchy, while successfully retaining control at all levels. This would thus lead to positive emotions, further reinforcing the motivation to practice and play more music.” 

Music may not be your flow activity, but whether its entrepreneurship or surfing, do you have that relationship between familiarity, preference, and flow?  

In your business, I want you to think about areas that you can expand based on EQ skills. This may be in customer retention, or employee training, and job satisfaction. What soft skills can you build upon to develop that experience?  

Oppositely, what hard skills have you been relying too much on? What area of your business is ripe for disruption?  

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