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Investment Bankers, High-Stakes Decisions and EQ

Jim Dethmer
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April 24, 2015
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Investment banks are not exactly bastions of touchy feely sentimentalism. They are no nonsense, hard driving, competitive and bottom line focused. The people who live in these worlds are some of the highest IQ people on the planet.

So why did they invite me talk to a group of their high potential, next generation leaders about (pause for suspense) FEELINGS?

Why? Because they are part of an ever-growing group of leaders who know that IQ will only get you so far, and that EQ (emotional intelligence) can take you even farther. The EQ body of research has been around for several decades. Thanks to pioneers like Dan Goleman, the research has shown that EQ trumps IQ as a predictor of long-term success in a leader’s career.But there’s more. EQ is not just self-awareness, knowing and managing feelings and tuning into and relating to the feelings of others (empathy). EQ is also a gateway to faster and better decision making.

Here’s how it works:

1.  Bring a current issue, problem, concern, opportunity or possibility to mind. Think about it for 60 seconds. Think in vivid descriptions. Play it out in your mind. Go big.

2.  Ask yourself, “What am I feeling in this moment?” The key here is to pause, breathe (one deep breath) and actually check. This is not about what you were feeling yesterday or last week or what you think you’ll feel tomorrow. This is about what you’re feeling right now.

3.  Answer with one of the 5 core feelings: Sad, Angry, Scared, Joyful or Sexual feelings. Feelings are like colors; there are primary ones and all others are made from some combination of the primary ones, so stick with the big 5.

4.  Ask yourself, “Where is the feeling in my body?” All feelings occur as sensations in and on the body. Get out of your head and into your body.

5.  Breathe for 60 seconds while simply keeping your attention on the sensations. At this point the mind is not helpful. In fact, it’s a distraction, so if the mind gets involved simply come back to the body and the sensations.

6.  Ask the feeling what it is here to show you.

This is where the investment bankers had to take a leap of faith. Don’t ask the mind. The mind has already given you what it has to give you. Ask the body where the feeling is occurring. Ask from openness and wonder, and then LISTEN to the body.

If the feeling is anger, ask, “Who or what do I need to say NO to?” “What needs to stop?”

“What is no longer of service to the whole?

”If the feeling is sadness, ask, “Who or what do I need to let go of?”

“What am I holding on to that needs to be released?” (Often we hold on to relationships, beliefs, visions, processes etc and don’t let them go so that the new can emerge.)

If the feeling is fear, ask, “Who or what do I need to pay attention to?”

“What do I need to face I’m not fully facing?"

”If the feeling is joy, ask, “Who or what do I need to celebrate and appreciate fully?”

If the feeling is sexual, ask, “What wants to be created?” “What is calling for my full creative attention?” 

“What wants to be birthed into the world through me/us?” (Sexual feelings during innovation processes or decision making are not about having sex, they are about creating. We get confused about this in life and it causes any number of issues).

Don’t figure out the answers to these questions. Wondering, and not figuring out, brings forward creativity and innovation. Just “live in” the questions and listen to what you hear (this is part of intuition).Finally, trust what you hear.

About the Author
Jim Dethmer

Jim has been coaching leaders and supporting individuals, groups, and organizations to optimize their effectiveness. Potent and practical, he see issues clearly and communicates next steps crisply. Jim works with Fortune 200 CEOs across all industries, and co-authored the book—High Performing Investment Teams—to support his work with leading asset management organizations around the world.