Dave Kerpen | Positive Intelligence
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Positive Intelligence

Positive Intelligence

One day several years ago, I had a huge pitch meeting in Washington, DC. But on the train down, I received a horrible piece of news: We had lost a $400,000 client. I was devastated. To make matters worse, after arriving in Washington upset and hungry, and walking two miles in 80-degree weather to the top-reviewed sushi place in town, I arrived to find out it was closed for renovations!

Now I was upset, tired, and starving, and I didn’t have enough time before my pitch meeting to find another place to grab lunch. On the short walk to my meeting, I encountered a homeless man asking me for change. I reached into my pocket and had that super awkward moment when the homeless man saw I was looking to give him money, but I didn’t have any. I reached for my wallet, hoping to give him a $1 bill.

No such luck.

In fact, I only had a $50 bill in my wallet. And now he was beside me, hoping and expecting money from me. At that point I had a choice: shrug and hope he didn’t get too upset or give him the $50. I figured, “What the heck, my day’s already ruined, might as well make his day,” and I handed him the $50 bill.

You would have thought he had just won the lottery! Jumping up and down, cheering, asking to hug me. He was so happy and joyful, and, in turn, I quickly became happy and joyful. It was truly an amazing moment. For the low price of $50, my mood completely changed, I walked right into that pitch meeting minutes later and I killed it, earning a $500,000 investment within 60 minutes!

You could say all the right things to your team. But if behind those words is a person feeling unhappy, stressed out, anxious, or in an otherwise negative mood, no matter how well you try to disguise it, it will impact you, your team, and your ability to get things done. The powerful scientific discovery of “mirror neurons” teaches us that human brains pick up on the moods of the people around them, impacting them either positively or negatively.

Obviously, we can’t be happy all the time, but there are tools to increase happiness and calm at any given moment, which allows us to be more positive and therefore better leaders. For years, I have tapped into gratitude and acts of kindness in order to put myself in a better mood. The simple act of taking two minutes to make a list on my phone of things and people I’m grateful for, or writing out three handwritten thank-you cards, takes me out of my head and into a better state. For others, meditation or yoga are ways of improving mood.

Two years ago, I studied “Positive Intelligence” (PQ ) under the movement’s founder, Shirzad Chamine. Stanford professor and author of a New York Times bestselling book of the same name, Shirzad teaches the practice of calming your mind through meditative “PQ” reps, becoming more self-aware, and regulating emotions along the way. I found his program to be massively valuable, so much so that I enrolled all my leadership team at Apprentice!

Whichever method you use, it is clear that in addition to what you do and how you do it, your mood and mindset make a tremendous difference in leading and delegating to your team. Do not take for granted the power of your own emotional state when leading and delegating! Enthusiasm and a positive attitude are totally contagious. But beware, so are apathy and a negative attitude.


This excerpt from Get Over Yourself: How to Lead and Delegate Effectively for More Time, More Freedom, and More Success illustrates not just the importance of delegating effectively, but also the profound impact our emotional state has on our ability to lead. Our mood can either empower or hinder our team’s success. Effective delegation is not only about the tasks you assign, but also about the energy and mindset you bring to your team. Let’s lead with positivity and make every interaction count towards building a more productive team and a happier life.

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