My Accidental 10-Year Journey to Discovering Emotional Intelligence

discovering emotional intelligence

There’s something ironic about me writing about Emotional Intelligence. Those who knew me 15-20 years ago would probably accuse me of not even knowing the definition of Emotional Intelligence. They wouldn’t be far off the mark. Since then, a lot has happened, including several devastating life events that have impacted the person I am and how I look at the world today. I believe I’m a kinder, more gentle and more empathetic person than I was back then. The person back then would’ve seen this as a weakness, but today, I see it as a strength. This post is the road to me discovering my Emotional Intelligence, or moreover, finding how I accidentally increased my Emotional Intelligence.

This isn’t about my little pity party. It’s probably just the opposite. Experts say that 20% of people are battling mental illness, but I believe those numbers maybe a little light. Entrepreneurs suffer symptoms of mental illness at twice the rate of average adults. I can’t speak on behalf of other entrepreneurs, but I know it takes all of my powers someday to get out of bed.

Whether this is sharing my story about the mental health challenges we endured with our daughter, the mental health challenges I’ve experienced as an entrepreneur or sharing the mistakes I made with my first business so others will not repeat the same mistakes, I believe it is my obligation to help others have a different outcome.

Do I think I’m alone in my thinking? Absolutely not, but it doesn’t make things any easier. I’ve talked at length about being transparent and authentic, but some days I feel like a complete fraud. There are a lot of days that I feel like total shit. Why don’t I share the truth about it all the time? Because I get tired of hearing that voice in my head some days. Sometimes I think if I don’t acknowledge how I’m feeling, I’ll forget about my depressive episodes. Besides, no one wants to hear someone bitch about how they feel all the time. If you complain all the time, people, over time, will start to avoid having contact with you.

People have often referred to my writing as being raw and honest. If I’m not transparent, how real am I in actuality? I temper what I put into writing and don’t tell people how I’m feeling. I don’t want to be “that guy”! I don’t think anyone wants to be “that guy.” That’s like asking your 85-year-old great aunt how she’s feeling. Do people want to hear the long-form version of the truth? Hell, no! No one deserves to be broad-sided by asking such an innocuous question.

For the record, I don’t always feel this way. Usually, it’s precipitated by an event. Take this past Thanksgiving weekend, for instance; I was looking forward to seeing my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and nieces, but I wasn’t looking forward to Thanksgiving. Holidays represent sadness for me, as I know my daughter will never attend another Thanksgiving dinner again. 

I wish I could sweep this sense of loss away with the change of seasons or the turn of the calendar. One day, I may be able to, but I can’t for the time being. This sense of loss is a life sentence of guilt, sadness, and regret.  

Recently, someone asked me if the sadness ever lifts. I used this analogy to describe the feeling of pain with time. They thought that the pain would lessen over time, but it didn’t. In the beginning, I liken it to standing in front of a cupboard. In the first couple of years, the pain is directly at eye level and right in front of you. After a few years pass, the pain moves. It shifts up or down a shelf or two. It may be off to the left or right or behind some other items in the cupboard. The pain is still there, but it may not be as front and centre. 

The question I often get is, “are you truly ever happy anymore?” Those who know me would probably say I’m pretty engaging. I love to laugh and get along with most people. I’m intolerant towards rudeness, arrogance and people who are condescending. People who are like this lack empathy and have low emotional Intelligence.

IQ is something that you are born with, or you’re not. EQ comes with experiences in life and how one chooses to allow them to affect you. Admittedly, I would never say that I had high levels of Emotional Intelligence until about ten years ago. Emotional Intelligence is the tipping point between caring more about others than you do about yourself. Naturally, becoming a parent helps to swing the EQ pendulum in the opposite direction. In my opinion, emotional Intelligence starts making one care about the wellbeing of a stranger over your own needs.

Sharing with others about the ordeal that we experienced with our daughter to have a different outcome with Maddie was a conscious decision that Maddie’s mom and I decided to embrace. Nicole started The Maddie Project, whose goal is to spark conversations about youth mental health and help provide uninhibited access to support for youth and their families. I wanted to write and share our experiences so others could relate better to their situation.

Is it working? The Maddie Project has raised almost $3 million in its efforts to support its goals. I continue to talk, listen and share our story with parents going through challenges with their children. Nicole is doing life-changing work through the Maddie Project. My audience of readers continues to grow.

Did I set out to alter lives after Maddie’s death? Initially, I’d say it was more of a coping strategy for me. With each subsequent conversation with parents, I believe I’m making a difference, and I’m happy to continue having these conversations until the requests are no longer there.

Chris’ Bio

Through the bankruptcy of his first business, a strong balance sheet means nothing unless you can get the money out of your business and into your hands personally, tax efficiently, and creditor protected.  Chris helps and coaches business owners to avoid a similar fate as he suffered in his first business.

Through several clever strategies, he illustrates how these little-known vehicles can get money out of your business efficiently, build your corporate brand and create a legacy through charitable means to help make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

Also, he has seen the impact that mental health can have upon success within your business and your life and how the two are on a constant collision course.  When Chris became aware that Entrepreneurs struggled with their mental health at more than twice the rate of average adults, he realized he wasn’t alone and made it his ambition to understand why and do something to help.  His business, The Finish Line Group, aims to help support the entrepreneur’s financial, philanthropic, and emotional needs.

Chris’ Why Statement remains, “To openly communicate the lessons learned from my past so that others will thrive in their lives, minimize their setbacks and leave a positive and lasting legacy.”

2 Comments on “My Accidental 10-Year Journey to Discovering Emotional Intelligence”

  1. Hi Chris:
    I read your post slowly and carefully. Beautiful journey into Emotional Intelligence. We all have choices into transformation and that includes our life experiences created or presented. I applaud your tenacity and strength exhibited through the sorrow and multitude of emotions you must have been through with Maddie’s loss. I have suicide in my family history. My sister-in-law left a baby boy before he was a year old. It impacted our family. Since we have known each other for longer than 10 years, let me tell you it was 1996. A transformative year for me in my life. One of many transformations. Like you there has been so much experience since this time and this note is to acknowledge how far we both have come. I was compelled to write this to you . I am grateful for knowing you how I do and appreciate your life’s creation to this moment. The most incredible part of growth is the Peace within that is unshakeable, full grounded in love and the joy it brings in its infinite way. Its not always a party, yet it IS just what’s going on. Whether we prefer what shows up; its how we can stay stable in our internal landscape without being rocked out of it; no matter what! I wish this for you! Bless! It’s me Tonette!

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