EQ – (Or why A students report to B students who report to C students, who report to D students who own the company!) Sunday’s “Coffee with Colm”

It is said your ability to succeed in life has only 15% to do with your technical ability in any area and 85% to do with your ability to get on with other people.

I am not a scientist, so may the academies out there forgive me if I get it wrong by labelling this second skill Emotional Intelligence.

Earlier in the week I had the privilege of addressing some of the next generation during some tours of Carambola’s HQ in Annacotty, Co. Limerick. I had a groups of teens in for a tour and a talk; 8 x 16/17 year olds (5th year students) and I told them that they are in school for two reasons and two reasons only and they are:

  1. To learn how to learn
  2. To learn how to work with others

The Western world’s educational system uses subjects such as maths, English, geography, history, Irish (here in Ireland) etc. to teach the skills required to learn how to learn – but in reality very few of us in our careers require on a daily basis to use Pythagoras Theorem or quote Hamlet by rote

In case you’d forgotten,

…the Pythagorean theorem, also known as Pythagoras’ theorem, is a fundamental relation in Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle. It states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

See! How DO you manage to get through a day without it?

School itself, the very attending of an institution teaches us the second and arguably the more important (five TIMES more important it turns out) skill of learning how to work with others.

The classroom is a microcosm of society – there are bigger and smaller boys and girls, prettier and less pretty, tougher and softer, more naturally academically intelligent (IQ) and those less so, some more street savvy and others not so much.

There is hierarchy too. Principal, Deputy Principal, Teachers, SNA’s Caretakers and Secretaries and everybody’s favourite the lollipop lady or man.

And competition. Classrooms compete with classrooms, schools with schools whether in choir, sport or debating.

All of these facets of school life represent real life in miniature, the real world in a relatively safe ‘practice mode’.

I repeat, the two reasons are:

  1. To learn how to learn
  2. To learn how to work with others

I told my young audience that if they master both of these fundamental skills they can go anywhere, if they fail to master one or the other, life will be unnecessarily more difficult.

Watch the video, (8 mins teaching) listen to the podcast (8 mins teaching) or read on below to find out more…

Prefer Podcast? Click here.

And I think if you apply this theory to your situation now, you will likely agree it is true; 15% of your success to date has been attributed to what you learned about your chosen profession and 85% based on your ability to work as a team member with others.

It is also said, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with others” so the benefits of learning how to learn and of learning how to work with others far outweigh the work associated in doing so.

Let’s for the purposes of this chat label each skill, IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient)

  1. To learn how to learn (IQ – 15%)
  2. To learn how to work with others (EQ – 85%)

In terms of getting ahead EQ is 5 times more important than IQ – which explains the statement, A Students, report to B Students who report to C Students who report to D Students who own the Company – the reason perhaps is that A Students put an inordinate value on IQ and academic achievement over and above the ‘people skills’ associate with EQ

And if EQ is really 5 times more powerful in terms of getting ahead, then it suggests we would all do well to improve our EQ scoring.

At Pendulum ‘18 Martyn Newman PhD (a clinical psychologist specialising in Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Mindfulness and author of the best-selling book Emotional Capitalists) spoke about the importance of EQ

He mentioned there are 10 EQ skills or traits that most successful people exhibit in common and he went on to focus on the Top 3 which are:

  1. Self- reliance
  2. Self confidence
  3. Optimism

Martyn then boiled them down into tow pillars:

  • Self – liking
  • Self-competence

A short story…

A young child looked up and saw a tall tree in the garden and being endowed with all three of the most important EQ skills decided she could climb to the top.

Optimistic she could make it. The self-confidence to know she could and the self-reliance to actually attempt it alone.

Her mother walks out and sees the child waving down at her from the uppermost branches and has one of two responses:

  1. Shrieks and screams for the child to get down here right now before you fall and kill yourself
  2. Congratulates the child on such a wonderful feat and then suggests she climb down for some lemonade

In scenario 1 the child’s achievement is reduced to a problem – how could you? Irresponsible – never do that again – you’re in big trouble and she is admonished for scaring the living daylights out of her poor mother.

In scenario 2, the child’s achievements are celebrated over lemonade and it is perhaps suggested next time she might call her mother before she climbs so she can watch her do it (Mom code for keeping an eye).

Can you see how the Mom’s different responses to the same set of circumstances can dramatically alter the child’s experience? One will teach her danger and caution, the other adventure and safety. Either will have an impact on who that child becomes in the future – this is EQ.

By the way it is proven we are 14 times more likely to hear a negative than a positive in anything we attempt…

So, three questions: On a scale of one to ten

  1. How self-reliant are you?
  2. How self-confident are you?
  3. How optimistic are you?

If you are unhappy with how you score yourself currently, please remember that life is a journey, that school was only ‘practice mode’ and that you can change any aspect of your being that you would prefer were different or better by

  • realising it,
  • acknowledging it and
  • working on it.

Gotta love being human!


HIRE ME TO SPEAK. Consider me speaking at your event, launch, awards, or as your after-dinner keynote. Find out more here.

MORE. Some of the issues touched on above have been discussed in earlier “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:

  • Body can’t lie – the overwhelming effect of non-verbal communication. Click here
  • How to create sustainable change in your life. Click here
  • Understanding the Gravity of Bad Habits (how to break free from it). Click here.

STAY CONNECTED. If this is your thing, consider joining in the conversation here.

FREE BOOK. If would like a complimentary copy of my book “Feeding Johnny – How to Build a Business Despite the Roadblocks” in audio, narrated by yours truly so you get all the nuances, feel free to grab one here.

DEEP DIVE. If you would like to go deeper in your own personal journey, you can review the first step in my “12 Steps to Create the Life You Really Want” for FREE. Check it out here.

Thanks for thinking with me.

Yours truly,

“How can I help?”

Share this

2 Responses to “EQ – (Or why A students report to B students who report to C students, who report to D students who own the company!) Sunday’s “Coffee with Colm””
  1. Kevin

    Very true Colm , more food for thought! Thanks for the ongoing promts which make my grey matter ponder and reconsider what we take for granted. Looking forward to the next one.

Leave a Reply
  • (will not be published)