Category Archives: Month 1

Month 1 Wrap Up

So I started my EQmentoring journey a little over a month ago. Seems like now is a good time for a wrap up and check in.

Wow I cannot believe the difference a month has made. A month ago I was whining about my situation at work, complaining about things I can’t change, and feeling very helpless about work in general.

In this past month I have discovered my EQ strengths and weaknesses, learned some basics about EQ, and discovered that I am a procrastinator.

I think the hardest part of this is discovering things about yourself that you did not know. But once you tell yourself, “hey it’s ok I’m going to work on this,” then you discover this inner peace that you never knew you had. So even if you are not perfect (heck who is) you start to accept yourself which then gives you the confidence and spirit to work on areas that you need to work on.

One month ago I identified self-regulation and emotionalism as areas of my EQ to work on. Interestingly enough, my mentor and I talked very little about these areas but I still noticed improvement. Just by being aware that these are my weak areas I was able to constantly keep check of my emotions and reactions to situations.

So what did my mentor and I work on? We had several exchanges initially just to get to know each other. Then we spent some time working on my personal mission statement, career goals, and goals for our 6 month journey. I also had several “issues” at work where I was not sure what to do. Each time I posted a message to my mentor and received a reply with advice. There is an option to mark a post as urgent which lets your mentor know that you need a quick response. This in itself has been a lifesaver and a great learning experience. Hopefully I will learn from these exchanges so that the next time I encounter “issues” like these I will know how to react on my own.

It’s funny, when you go to school you learn how to do calculus, geometry, dissect pigs, but no one ever teaches you how to respond properly to a situation or policy that you don’t agree with or tells you how to get along with a difficult person. I have yet to use calculus, geometry, or pig anatomy outside of school, but EQ is something I use every hour!

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Why anonymity?

I have a few very, close friends who I’ve shared this blog with. The one question they’ve all asked is, “Why am I blogging anonymously.” As my one friend T said, “Web 2.0 is all about transparency and open collaboration. Why would anyone want to hide?”

I’m here to answer that question.

The EQmentor program has anonymity as one of its foundations. The picture below shows you the honor code that must be agreed to each time you log in to the site. (Hint: You can click on the picture to see a larger version of it.)

When I created my account I completed a detailed profile and questionnaire so that I could be matched with an appropriate mentor. Once matched we began communicating with literally a clean slate. We are each assigned a unique ID number and address each other as Dear Mentee and Dear Mentor.

The benefit of a clean slate? There is no bias. My mentor does not know my name, age, sex, race, or place of employment. Nor do I know that information about my mentor. (Though I will confess that it’s fun to guess.)

There is no fear that my mentor will someday interview me for a job or be my boss. (If it happens we would never know.) There is no fear that my mentor may share a company secret with someone else who leaks the secret and gets me fired. There is not fear that my mentor will call my boss and say something that will get me fired. There is no fear that what I say could keep me from being promoted.

Safety.

The key benefit of an anonymous mentor/mentee relationship is a safe environment. I truly have the freedom to ask and say anything. And that is a wonderful, freeing feeling.

So now that I’ve explained why the mentoring process is anonymous, I’ll cover why I’m blogging anonymously.

Blogging anonymously allows me to share my experience with you while upholding the confidentiality of the mentor-mentee relationship I have with my mentor. If my mentor happens upon this site it will not take him or her long to recognize my writing. If I were to disclose my name or personal information it would violate the confidentiality agreement that EQmentor has and put my mentor and me in an awkward position.

I hope this post sheds some light on the anonymity. Feel free to ask questions via comments or just say hello.

IQ versus EQ

I thought it might be time to step back a bit and reflect on what my 6-month journey with EQ Mentor is all about. EQ.

To understand EQ you first need to understand intelligence.

Intelligence is the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas, use language and learn.

All of those skills and knowledge are important. But what’s even more important is how you interact and communicate with people. EQ.

Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient is the ability to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of your self, others, and groups.

I love people, and one of the things I’ve done for years is to observe what makes someone great. What is the difference between good and great? What makes someone an ok manager versus a great manager? What makes someone a great friend as opposed to a good friend? Why are some people looked up to and admired?

You can have two people with equal IQs, equal experiences, but one person will shine. Why?

In my opinion it boils down to EQ. It is our interpersonal relations that make us or break us. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you are a jerk you will not get very far. Along with this is your attitude. I’ve posted about this before but a positive attitude can go a long way.

EQ is made up of different components depending on which model you look at. They all basically add up to the same conclusion though. Here is the EQmentor model:

  • Self-awareness: the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effects on others.
  • Self-regulation: the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods and the propensity to suspend judgment to think before acting.
  • Motivation: a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status and the propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence.
  • Empathy: the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people and the skill to treat people according to their emotional reactions.
  • Social Skills: proficiency in managing relationships and building networks and the ability to find common ground and build rapport.

If you read carefully through those descriptions you can see how important EQ is and why it can make the difference between good and great.

Just by reading those can you think of an area you need to improve? What area are you strong in? You can view my scores here.

You can read more about EQ on the EQmentor website.

Balancing Act

One of my goals is to obtain the perfect balance between home and work. I started over the weekend by literally unplugging. No cell phone, no iPod, no Internet. I didn’t even use a digital camera. It was refreshing! I enjoyed some quality time with my family and was able to give them my full attention.

When I went to work today I was refreshed and ready to go. I got a few big tasks completed and a few little ones. I’m making a concentrated effort this week to live in the moment.

Are you a procrastinator?

I never thought of myself as a procrastinator until recently. If you want to find out for sure, take this quick test from University of Calgary at Procrastination Central.

I scored 80%. My full results are below. I’ve emboldened some of the text and added some notes and observations in red.

Your score is 80 out of a possible 100

Usually a Procrastinator

You rank in the top 10% in terms of procrastination. That is, when it comes to putting things off, you often do so even though you know you shouldn’t. Likely, you are much more free-spirited, adventurous, and spontaneous than most. Probably, your work doesn’t engage you as much as you would like or perhaps you are surrounded by many easily available and much more pleasant temptations. (This is so true in many ways. It’s hard to be engaged in work when you don’t feel valued or when you are constantly overlooked or ignored. For those of you who know me you might not agree with this but it is how I feel and that is after all what matters. Temptations are everywhere. Like I said in Friday’s post, one small Google search can end up wasting an hour or more in finding more information online.) These temptations may initially seem rewarding, but in the longer-term, you see many of them as time-wasters. Though you are likely incredibly productive just before a deadline, you might not get all your work done and there is a lot of unwanted stress. You may want to reduce what procrastination you do commit. If so, here are three tips that have been shown to work:

Goal Setting

This is one of the most established ways of moving forward on your plans. Take any project you are presently procrastinating and break it down into individual steps. Each of these steps should have the following three aspects. First, they should be somewhat challenging though achievable for you. It is more satisfying to accomplish a challenge. Second, they should be proximal, that is you can achieve them fairly soon, preferable today or over the next few days. Third, they should be specific, that is you know exactly when you have accomplished them. If you can visualize in your mind what you should do, even better.

Stimulus Control

This method has also been well tested and is very successful. What you need is a single place that you do your work and nothing else. Essentially, you need an office, though many students have a favorite desk at a library. For stimulus control to work best, the office or desk should be free of any signs of temptation or easily available distractions that might pull you away (e.g., no games, no chit-chat, no web-surfing). If you need a break, that is fine, but make sure you have it someplace at least a few minutes distant, preferably outside of the building itself. If you are unwilling to take the time to get there, acknowledge that you likely don’t need the break. (I have an office but I really think it is the Internet that distracts me. Along with my RSS feeds, chat windows, Twitter, Meebo. Yep I need to unplug.)

Routines

Routines are difficult to get into but in the end, this is often our aim. Things are much easier to do when we get into a habit of them, whether it is work, exercise, or errands. If you schedule some of those tasks you are presently procrastinating upon so that they occur on a regular schedule, they become easier. Start your routine slowly, something to which you can easily commit. Eventually, like brushing your teeth, it will likely become something you just do, not taking much effort at all. At this point, you might add to your routine, again always keeping your overall level of effort at a moderate to low level. Importantly, when you fall off your routine, inevitable with sickness or the unexpected, get back on it as soon as possible. Your routine gets stronger every time your follow it. It also gets weaker every time you don’t.

This just reaffirms some of what I already knew. How about you? Are you a procrastinator?

Getting Things Done

So after my gripe Friday about not getting anything accomplished, I’ve spent this week reviewing the book Getting Things Done and installing the software on my computer. I’ve gone through hundreds of emails deleting most and following up on others. I am trying to only file a few for reference.

I found a few emails that were read but I never replied to. Apologies were sent to those people while I noted to myself that there has to be a better way. I know that there are people who get much more email than me and they keep up, or do they?

Other than that and the usual day to day work, I’m working on a personal mission statement with my mentor.

Getting Things Done (or Not)

It’s Friday night. The end of the week. I feel like I got nothing accomplished at work this week. I am so overwhelmed I can’t keep up.

Have you ever felt this way? I have all these great ideas, but I can’t seem to get them to come to life. The old saying is all talk but no action. But that’s not exactly true. I do lots of thinking, reading, research, networking, talking, communicating. It’s the actual completing the tasks on a task list to complete a project that is my problem.

I do a lot of work online. So let’s say I go to Google to look up something. Something else will catch my attention and an hour later I realize I haven’t finished what I meant to do. I’ve tried even disconnecting from the Internet, but I still get distracted. Focus seems to be a huge problem for me at the moment and it’s a new one. I’ve never had this problem until recently. I can only attribute it to information overload. I have too much input on a daily basis to generate any output.

I’m a big fan of the Getting Things Done method. I think I’ll go back to using the task list next week.

I’ve also over committed myself for the next month. I’m not sure if it’s even possible to get all the things done that I need to do.

It’s been a few days since I’ve heard from my mentor. I hope everything is ok.