Writing for the purpose of self reflection is a task that most of us never really get around to doing. Many might consider it a complete waste of time. However, in reading the Parallax, the real benefit of writing for self reflection is made clear through Frank’s story. It is interesting to think about how two people experiencing the same moment can have such drasticallly different viewpoints and perspectives on the experience. Writing allows us to transcend a personal experience and break it down in order to see the experience from another perspective. It also allows us to deconstruct our thoughts and perhaps discover a part of your subconscious self that you may not have known or understood. While writing for self reflection is something that most average people probably don’t do or even think about doing, the Parallax helps put into perspective the benefits of doing so on personal effectiveness both in our daily lives and in the workplace. It’s important to know how others perceive you because this may not match with how you wish to be perceived or it may not match with your intentions. The best example is how Kyle, the CEO in the story, is able to slow down and realize how much of an ass he’s being. He’s able to realize this for a moment in time. The experiences of the workshop attendees definitely allowed them to see themselves more clearly and increase their personal effectiveness
Change Is a Verb
Aspen trees paint the mountain landscape with a blaze of gold as fall approaches—a welcome change from the hot-dry summer months. We await the metamorphosis with great anticipation. Similarly, we often treat change in our lives as if its’ a manifestation of inevitable consequences. This viewpoint is embedded in our language: Change happens. We’re under the grip of change. Couples in love recognize that an effective relationship requires that we understand that love is a verb, not a noun. It’s not good enough to fall into love. We must constantly work at loving. And so it is with change. Spencer Johnson, MD, in his best-selling book, Who Moved My Cheese, uses cheese as a metaphor for change to teach us this lesson. He tells us that we have to plan for change—“Smell the cheese often.” Effective change requires that we view it not as something that happens to us, but something that we facilitate through the choices we make. We act so we aren’t acted upon and, as we do, we become a model for others.
Effective Change Inspires Others
St. Louis musical artist Erin Bode recently released a song, The Space Between, inspired by ten-year old Katelyn Jackson, who is afflicted with a congenital heart defect. Erin used audio recordings that doctors had made of Katelyn’s heartbeat, during her years of treatment, as the background rhythm for the song. As an artist, Erin understands that her music can tell a story. She created a song that allows us to connect with our deepest emotions, becoming a model for what her lyrics implore—“Maybe, if you hold my hand…” She demonstrates how we can become a positive force for change as her song helps, not only Katelyn, but thousands of others.
Effective Change Makes a Difference
It’s when we understand that we have the power to impact our future through the choices we make that we become truly effective. Accessing our emotions and connecting with our stories move us toward that goal. Our stories allow us to see ourselves with new understanding, providing an impetus for change, marked not by passivity and acceptance, but distinguished by active involvement and inspiration. Kyle, a character in The Parallax, learns this lesson from Nicole, another character in the book, who unsuspectingly through her leadership becomes his role mode, influencing a positive change in his behavior. Everyone has the opportunity for leadership. Ken Blanchard, author of The One-Minute Manager, reminds us that “leadership is a journey, not a destination.” Leadership, love and change, they are all journeys. As we embark on these journeys, we learn that we each have a role as we interconnect with others, recognizing that the outstretched hand that we clasp may be the giver as well as the recipient of help. We discover a truth—“Maybe, if you hold my hand…”
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage emotions—our own and others’. Everyone knows the importance of emotions. It’s one of those common sense things. But as Samuel, a fictional character in the The Parallax, points out “common sense ain’t necessarily common practice.” Emotional intelligence is the missing element in our understanding of personal effectiveness and a possible explanation for the disparity that often exists between cognitive intelligence (IQ) and success.
How does emotional intelligence impact our effectiveness?
Have you underestimated or neglected the importance of emotions? Or most importantly, do your behaviors reflect recognition of their importance? Baby boomers might remember Data, the android in Star Trek: The Next Generation. His cognitive abilities were super-human; however, Data knew that it was his inability to experience emotions that limited his effectiveness and differentiated him from humans—something he desperately yearned to be.
How can we improve our emotional intelligence?
When you experienced anger and frustration as a child, your mother may have offered this advice: “Count to ten.” …more common sense. But in our 4G world things happen very fast, eliminating the opportunity to pause and reflect which is key to managing and controlling our emotions. Without this critical self-reflection, our emotional intelligence is diminished and our effectiveness is impaired.
What is the relationship between emotional intelligence and writing?
Writing engages our brain differently. Think about it. Try writing something without giving attention to what you’re writing. You can’t do it! Writing demands that we focus our thoughts, and as our first words spill out onto the page, others begin to emerge, as if they’d been hiding, waiting to be discovered. Your mother was right—counting to ten helps. But even better, taking the extra time to write about something that is troubling you can yield one-hundred fold results, improving our emotional intelligence and increasing our personal effectiveness.