I found myself thinking about worrying last week. I was on site in the UK all week. It was hot. I met lots of people. I drank lots of coffee. Some may say I was worrying. I say I was thinking. It’s a subtly. But there’s an important difference. Worrying is a cyclical process from which it can be hard for us to escape. It seldom leads anywhere. Thinking is a logical process. It is about pros and cons. Options and ideas. Priorities and plans. Thinking will always lead to a way forward.
I concluded there are two major dimensions to worry – the past (what we have done) and the future (what we will do). We have all made mistakes – me especially. We have all done or said things that didn’t work out as we wanted or expected. Nothing can be done to change this. All we can do is learn from our experiences and move on. Anything else is a dead end and an energy ‘drain’.
Similarly, none of us can predict what is going to happen tomorrow, and yet it’s so easy for us to spend so much time trying to do just that, and – worse still – getting worked up about everything that could possibly go wrong. Not only is this an energy ‘black hole’ but it’s also a great way not to do something… something that could just as easily turn out wonderfully for us…and for others.
But worry we all do. Internally. We seldom express our worries to each other. Certainly at work. We are – most of us in our industry – scientists after all. Scientists who – by our very training – love to measure and analyse and theorise about everything. Sharing our worries is pretty close to sharing our feelings. Not part of our training…not part of our culture.
There is some benefit from this. There are times when it helps to be able to control our emotions. For example, anyone who consistently demonstrated negative emotions (like frustration or anger) will likely as not only encourage more frustration and irritation. On the other hand, us being aware of our emotions and being willing to share those emotions with others can be dramatically positive.
For example, when I think about anybody who I truly admire – leaders or friends, colleagues or peers – it’s obvious that my admiration isn’t just based on what they have done, it’s as much about how they have done those things. In effect it is because they impacted me on an emotional level.
This ability to reach people in a way that’s more than just intellectual or rational is crucial. And many would say this is the mark of a great leader, or peer, or colleague. The ability to inspire us. It’s a simple as that. To inspire: to create a feeling – especially a positive one – in a person. And when I feel inspired, I feel able to deliver more and better.
I don’t really know if our training as scientist makes this ‘emotional intelligence’ harder for us to demonstrate. But I do know that as scientists we are good at experimenting and at analyzing results. Perhaps we should experiment our way to success? After all, we are all passionate about our work. We are excited about our opportunities. We are proud of our people. We are confident about our future. We are happy to be with friends. We enjoy what we do.
Yes, we all have to develop our own individual styles, but maybe we should experiment a little at communicating our emotions – especially our positive emotions – with our colleagues, friends and partners.