Emotional Brilliance – Living a Fearless Life

Dr. Relly Nadler:
Today, we are going to talk about a book that Cathy and I are in the process of researching called, Emotional Brilliance – Living a Fearless Life. We all have emotions all day long, how many of us know how and what to do with them? They influence our decisions, they influence our communications, they influence relationships.

In this show, Dr. Cathy Greenberg and I are going to explore the concept of Emotional Brilliance. Why that’s important, what it is and some hands-on strategies to be fluent and brilliant in your emotions. We have interviews 100s of leaders, authors, stars across many fields in our show over the last 10 years and we have millions of downloads of our shows. People have listened to them in 27 countries and 125 cities.

Let me give you a little background but then I want to turn it back over to you and we can talk about the Emotional Brilliance. You know, that title you came up with but we know from our work Cathy, working with leaders that the emotional intelligence is the critical factor when you look at success for them.

One is the technical expertise people have, two is their IQ, how smart they are. Three is their emotional intelligence. A lot of the research is showing as the further someone moves up the ladder in their organization, in their corporation, the factors that allow them to continue to improve is emotional intelligence.

Today, what we are going to take a deeper dive into this whole topic about emotional brilliance. When you have these emotions you are better in the moment, you are going to have better decisions, better judgment, better communication, better relations. We want to be able to share some of the research and why we are taking a deeper dive into this idea of emotional brilliance.

Cathy, the title you came up with, maybe say a word about that and then we will jump into what some of the content is.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Yeah, I think where we came up with idea of Emotional Brilliance stems from the founding of my company with two individuals who are members of Navy Spec Warfare, retired, and two individuals who were special operations, S.W.A.T., who were thinking when we defined the Fearless Leaders Group, how can any individuals, even the highest performers in their tier 1 organizations, which would be the Navy Seals and S.W.C.C. (special warfare combatant crewman), the Rangers, Green Berets, the S.W.A.T., special resource teams, F.B.I., H.R.T.(hostage rescue teams).

How could any of these tier 1 high performers live a more emotionally balanced and brilliant life, which extends itself to any individual, in any organization, in any industry, who is themselves the top performer?

You could be the best video engineer, you could be the best soccer mom, you could be the best at anything you choose to be when you think about taking one emotional scale, one thing that you have mastered through emotional and social intelligence and we will talk a little bit about that in a minute.

But take that one thing that you are really good at, maybe staying calm in a storm, maybe it’s being able to think clearly when you are in a stressful situation. Maybe it’s having the empathy to care for others even when you’re in distress. It’s the possibility of being flexible when a situation is so complex that nobody sees an option for doing something differently.

So, any one of those emotionally intelligent scales; flexibility, empathy, decision-making, staying calm or what we call having reality checking, any one of those things can be built upon and when we were talking about how to leverage that, we came up with the Fearless Leaders Group.

We are going to go to a break, Relly, I know we will be right back after 1 minute and I’ll continue to give a deeper dive into how we all become fearless by leveraging 1 talent. Just 1.


Dr. Relly Nadler: Cathy and I are talking about our book that we are working on, Emotional Brilliance – Living a Fearless Life, and we want to say a few things about emotions and then talk about what is an emotionally brilliant person.

Our plan is to interview experts, researchers, leaders, heroes and learn what they think about emotions and experiences of being emotionally brilliant. What are some of the ways that they deal with emotions when they are overwhelmed?

And, so, we want to start that off. First, let me just say a couple things about what an emotion is.

It is chemical data, its information. It’s in your body. It’s a complex state of feeling that results in physical/psychological changes that influence our behavior. It’s a complex psychological state, there is a subjective experience, there is a physiological experience and there is a behavioral experience. Some of the research when you talk about emotions, feels, affect, there are a lot of different definitions.

One of the things that we’ll differentiate here is that one way to look at emotions is that they occur in the body and it’s in the subcortical regions of the brain, the amygdala, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and it creates a biochemical reaction in your body altering a physical state.

Now we may differentiate that, that when you have these experiences in your body, the feelings originate in different parts of the brain but they’re a mental association, it’s kind of like how you make sense of what is going on in your body. The reactions to the emotions, it’s a subjective, being influenced by your personal experiences, your beliefs, your memories.

So, we all have these bodily reactions and then we somehow interpret them and it’s important because emotions matter around your attention, your memory, your learning, decision making and judgment, relationship quality, physical and mental health which we’ll talk about, academic and life success.

A lot of this research is from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and as we know, everything happens in the moment. Whether you are aware of what’s going on for you, some of its unconscious or not, and aware of what’s going on for others. Being emotional brilliant is being in that moment and really making the best decision, the right thing to say, the right moment, it’s well received and it enhances relationships.

So, Cathy, I wanted to ask you about how you first learned about emotions, if there was a significant one because we are both in the emotional world, helping people understand and manage their emotions better.

So, is there any kind of experience that’s how you learned the most about emotions? Then I’ll share one and then we will get more into the research.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Yeah, definitely. You know, leading up to where we are, Relly, in this context of emotional intelligence, living a fearless life, I wrote several books with individuals who I respect and admire and who had similar, if you will, emotional ideas/perspectives, meaning emotional intelligent ideas and perspectives.

In my own work you can read about lots of those emotional experiences in What Happy Companies Know, given my background as a global consultant with two of the world’s largest consulting firms, Accenture and Computer Sciences Corporation as well as academia through Drexel University there, Lebow College of Business where I co-founded the Institute for Strategic Leadership.

And two additional books focused on What Happy Women Know and What Happy Working Mothers Know, but in all honesty, those books are for anyone who works with, supervises, or just loves a working woman or a working mother.

In those books, I share many experiences but the defining moment for me was when I was responsible for my own life and my own wellbeing, skydiving with special operations. When you are responsible for your own life and you are taking your own life into your own hands in a conscious fashion and you are wiped out within seconds of jumping out of a plane and you are unconscious, you wake up with a new definition of what you’re capable of. And that’s why I say when you learn enough about yourself to understand your true talents and your ability to reenergize yourself, to re-engage, to be resilient, you become truly fearless.

So, it was in May, about 10 years ago that I took a friend to jump with some individuals who were specials forces and special operations because I don’t like to jump with civilians, they tend to be a little less conscious and a little less expert in what they’re doing. It’s a civilian drop zone but these are individuals with 1000s and 1000s and 10s of 1000s of jumps.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the bottom line was it was 110 degrees on the ground in Arizona and It was a balmy 50-some degrees at our jump height which was around 13000-14000 feet.

So, when you jump out of a plane at 50-some degrees and it’s comfortable and you drop quickly and at the 4000 ceiling where you are supposed to pull your chute, you hit that 110-degree heat and you are not inoculated for heat or jumping because I hadn’t jumped in about a month, it knocks you unconscious. And I wasn’t ready for that.

When I woke up the first time, luckily my cypress which is an automatic opening gadget, we will just leave it at that, that you have embedded in your chute so that if you hit a certain altitude and you don’t pull your chute yourself, the cypress automatically opens it for you. So luckily for me the cypress opened my chute and I was safe in the sense that I did have a chute open but when you are dangling in the sky and you wake up and you are looking down and you realize that you didn’t pull your chute and you’re not being responsible for yourself that adrenaline rushes through your body and what really shocked me into consciousness long enough to position myself for a safe landing was the fact that I was in control of me and not panicking, and having this sense of calm that came over me knowing that I could control what was going on was a gift.

Now unfortunately for me, I went unconscious again, I’m not sure why but I did and somewhere between 4000 and about 800 feet off the ground which is where I lined up for what we call a dog-leg landing, I went unconscious again.

I woke up again at about 800 feet off the ground and to tears of joy of people screaming ‘Flare, Flare!’ Now you don’t want to flare at 800 feet, in fact, you can barely hear people yelling at 800 feet but as I came in I realized that if I was conscious enough to control my chute by flaring, meaning pulling on the ropes on either side of the parachute to slow myself down enough to land without hurting myself that I would be okay.

As I got closer to the ground I positioned my hands into the stirrups of the chute and I started to pull lightly and I didn’t pull lightly enough and I did land, very hard. I broke my coccyx into 4 pieces and I fractures my L1 and my L5 vertebrae but I was alive and needless to say here to tell the story.

So, when you learn how to control an emotion like fear or panic so that you can save your own life, you get real conscious of what else you’re capable of and to me, that was really the day I learned how emotional intelligence worked.

I didn’t really know enough about it from a scientific standpoint until I started working with you and learning more from you and over the years, your guidance and that of the providers of information and research that you and I just cherish. I have learned a lot about how this works and I think we are at a point in our careers where people rely on us to teach them, and it’s a wonderful place to be.

Dr. Relly Nadler: So, let me just ask you a question about that, I have heard your story before, it’s amazing but the key take away is that almost in spite of your environment and everything that’s going on in your body and everything else, you were able to kind of manage your emotions and take care of yourself so that you didn’t get more injured.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Absolutely. And when we say scared straight, you get real confident. I’ll tell you what was the inspiration for me. In working with special forces, special operations, executives, humanitarians, moms, people with terminally ill careers, I mean people who have careers that work with the terminally ill –  sorry misspoke there – I learned a lot. And without their role modeling, without the language that you have created to help me understand those things, and without my own experiences, I couldn’t be who I am, and I wouldn’t be a better me.

Listen above to hear Relly’s story!

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