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Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success

Twelve and a Half

IT’S NOT surprising that the “growth potential of most businesses is limited by the emotional intelligence of their leaders,” writes Gary Vaynerchuk in Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success. (And it’s 99% free of the language you have come to expect from Vaynerchuk.)

The soft skills always have mattered, but they are hard because we have to work on ourselves. (It is incidentally why no one is a born leader.) Because they are hard, we avoid developing them as we should if we can get by with it. And through various periods of history, we could. Today, we can’t—and shouldn’t.

Vaynerchuk states that “modern society’s definition of a ‘smart business decision’ is disproportionately predicated on analytics. Business leaders tend to find safety in the ‘black-and-white.’ They find safety in the academics, math, hard data, and what looks good on spreadsheets.” He believes that it is the soft skills is the strength that “will help you survive and flourish.”

He identifies twelve ingredients of emotional intelligence free from the ranting you often hear on this subject that comes across as a way to make the ranter look with it. (There is a thirteenth ingredient—candor—that he gives half because it is something he struggles with—balancing kindness with candor.) He emphasized that all twelve are important and, while equally valuable, they “must be deployed in different proportions in different situations. As you navigate every second of your life, you need to add different ingredients at different times.” Here are the twelve with selected Vaynerisms:

1. Gratitude

Gratitude is a perspective on life. We panic when we compare ourselves to others. “People look upward at those who rank higher, but they don’t look downward at the billions ranked lower.” We have more to be grateful for than we think.

“Be thoughtful and honest with yourself about your missteps, but don’t start dwelling on them,” or it will become the jail you live in. There’s no value in that, says Vaynerchuk.

In the face of disappointment, gratitude is my chess move to limit dwelling on it.

If you draw energy from gratitude, you’ll find that it lasts much longer than energy drawn from insecurity, anger, or disappointment.

2. Self-Awareness

It’s one thing to be self-aware. It’s another thing to look in the mirror and say, “Hey, you’re not good at X.”

Insecurity often leads to avoidance. People tend to be the most avoidant with their own flaws.

Confidence makes self-awareness easier. I’m willing to take a hard look in the mirror and acknowledge all the problems I have in my life. I’m willing to separate who I am from who I wish I could be, a challenge for those who are insecure.

3. Accountability

I think of accountability as the brakes. It stops the momentum of pain that comes from blaming others.

I have to accept that in some way I made a decision that put me in that situation.

Much of the day-to-day angst people face comes from a feeling of helplessness. Accountability can potentially reverse that.

4. Optimism

Choosing optimism over pessimism is, at the end of the day, wildly practical. It doesn’t mean being naïve or blind to the downsides in business or in life. In fact, I’m more aware than most about what could go wrong. I just believe I’m capable of navigating any challenge.

Optimism makes playing the game more enjoyable than winning it.

5. Empathy

Empathy is my ear to the ground. It naturally pairs with curiosity.

When you’re empathetic, you recognize why people behave the way they do.

Empathy is like a cheat code in business and life. I actually think it makes the other eleven and a half ingredients easier to use. You can handle any situation if you can feel the feelings of others involved.

6. Kindness

[Kindness] is about being kind to those who have put me in a difficult position.

Being kind when you’re under pressure is tough. It’s easy to blast off and curse people out when you’re feeling stressed. It takes internal strength to be the bigger man or woman, but it’s an important trait that can differentiate you from others.

You can be kind, be candid, and hold your ground all at the same time.

7. Tenacity

Tenacity should never equal burnout.

Being tenacious is about telling yourself, “I enjoy my process so much that I am able to push through what others normally view as obstacles along the way.”

Conviction and tenacity work hand in hand. When you have conviction in what you’re doing, it’s easier to be tenacious.

8. Curiosity

Curiosity mixed with empathy can lead to intuition. Then, after experiencing or “tasting” that intuition, you can develop conviction.

To maximize the value of curiosity, you need a strong work ethic. You need a strong desire to continue learning, no matter how much you’ve accomplished.

9. Patience

When you have a good relationship with time, the pressure is lifted, and you can do so much more.

A staggering number of people from eighteen to thirty feel anxiety about their careers because they don’t have a good relationship with patience.

Patience can give you permission to dream bigger.

10. Conviction

Conviction is the north star that keeps you on track, helping you be tenacious throughout your journey, despite the inevitable difficulties. Without conviction, you’ll miss big opportunities and lose because of other people’s opinions, which is most devastating of all.

11. Humility

Humility is a requirement if you want to cultivate a lasting positive reputation and leave an admirable legacy. Leaders can’t sustain success without it.

Humility creates a comforting feeling of safety that helps you move quicker in business.

Humility keeps you from overthinking the aspects of content creation that slow most people down. Does my picture look nice enough? What will people think of these colors?

12. Ambition

People tend to have an unhealthy relationship with ambition partly because they use it as a cover-up for their insecurities. Some people set goals to build successful businesses or secure prestigious titles in organizations so they can prove something to their parents, their significant others, or their high school friends who doubted them. Their ambitions are great, but their motivation is based more on insecurity than curiosity or self-awareness.

Part Two of the book gives a number of real-life scenarios after which Vaynerchuk gives his perspective on which ingredients would have worked best in that context. It is helpful in understanding how these twelve ingredients work together for a good outcome.

His responses include:

By starting with empathy and curiosity, you can get clearer feedback. Then accountability and conviction can help you decide what to do next.

If you look at every decision you make through the lens of optimism and layer it with kindness to yourself, there’s almost never a wrong decision. If you look at it through pessimism, there are problems with every decision.

When people are hurting on the inside, they lash out by blaming others. They desperately look for a coping mechanism, which usually comes in the form of pointing fingers.

The reality is, when you complain about something, you’re giving it mental leverage over you.

Anger and insecurity can create short-term boosts, but they’ll rarely sustain you. In some cases, they can lead you to a dark place mentally over time.

When you’re in a partnership, empathy and humility come first, not conviction.

Part Three concludes the book with exercises to help you develop and grow in each of these twelve areas.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:20 AM
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