Great entrepreneurs tend to be good leaders. Studies show that good leaders are really good at emotional intelligence, or emotional smarts as I like to say.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to increase your emotional smarts as a solopreneur. You want to become self-aware and able to understand and cope with your emotions and the emotions and motivations of others, meaning your clients. That way, you can run your business instead of the other way around.
If you’re someone who doesn’t like controversy or confrontation, emotional smarts is a must for you. Growing your emotional smarts can take you from being the 98 pound weakling, subject to the outrageous whims of difficult clients, to being a confident, resilience business owner who can to speak up for yourself and your business.
Being emotionally smart will increase your profits. Yup, I said profits. That’s the money you get to keep. Let me explain because once you get this, you will be motivated to change. I know I was, big time.
Get a hold of yourself
Self-regulation is another component of the whole self-management thing that is emotional smarts. You practice good self regulation when you can control your negative impulses and transform negative emotions into a positive stance. This is huge!
You’ll be able to spot yourself taking a wrong turn before you go over the cliff. Nice. Here’s how that works in dollars and cents.
I bet you’ve bought a lot of courses, ebooks and coaching programs. Lord knows, I have. Always feels like I need to ‘brush up on this’ before I try something new. That means buying some expertise. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for getting the best advice. It would be hypocritical if I didn’t.
However, that’s not what I was buying. I was trying to buy comfort and reassurance that I’d do a great job, clients would really benefit and the idea would sell. That gets expensive. I’m sure I’ve spent at least $10k or more over the years.
Now that I’m aware of my tendencies I really pause, like wait overnight and longer, before I buy. I discovered new ways to ease myself and gain confidence like my happy file. You gotta get one.
Your Happy Place
Your Happy File is your business happy place. Inside your happy file is every nice note, comment, testimonial, web mention or email that ever made you smile or cry with happiness. That’s where reassurance and confidence live.
You can keep your Happy File on Pinterest, Evernote, Google Drive. Somehow reading the kind things others say about you works wonders for a girl’s confidence.
I also look through my hard drive. Chances are, I already have something that I haven’t read that’s just right. It’s a gold mine in there. I get some comfort and more knowledge without spending a cent. Buffing up your emotional smarts saves the money you’d spend on things to make you feel better. Think about how much money you could’ve saved last year!
You’ll also save yourself money because you’ll select your clients with more care or plan for accordingly. Are you a bit of a rescuer? That’s ok,most helping professionals are. Knowing that information about yourself allows you to create systems and agreements so you can be generous without giving away your shirt. No more doing work or extras that don’t get paid for when your contract has terms designed to prevent that.
Building Self Awareness
First stop on the emotional intelligence train is: self-awareness. Be self-aware. Sounds easy. I mean you know yourself, right?
Turns out the answer is yes…and no. We assume we know ourselves well. We take a snapshot of a period of time and say, that’s me…I’m [add adjective here]. However, in truth, you and I are more like movies than Polaroids. We are changing everyday. Evolving or devolving as we deal with the world around us.
The definition of self aware is: the ability to observe and reflect on your own mental state and motivations. It’s knowing your strengths, weaknesses, talents, sore spots and how those impact the people around you.
When I talk about self-awareness I define it as being knowledgable about how you function in the world. What motivates you? What frustrates you. Who do you tend to get along with and what personality type drives you bats What are the signals that you’re afraid and procrastinating? What does hope and secret excitement look like for you? When does your evil twin come out to play?
I’m guessing you spend your days busy with marketing and meeting client needs, not thinking about what’s joyous for you. But what if you did? What if you knew that standing in the sunshine for 5 minutes would make you smile? You’d be able to find joy in the smallest of things because you knew what to look for. That’s critical for building the mindfulness that leads to success.
[Note: Self-esteem is slightly different because it's defined as your attitudes about yourself. Do you think you're smart, resilient, funny, a good friend? We'll come back to self-esteem in a later post.]
Why is this important?
Why is self-awareness important to you as a small business owner? Harvard Business Review suggests that EQ, emotional intelligence, is more important than IQ in terms of achieving success. Think about that.
None of us work alone. We collaborate with clients, coworkers and vendors to do our work and get paid. Your business suffers when you aren’t aware how you interact with others, when you don’t know the impact of your words and actions. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…
Running your business without understanding your emotions is like driving your car blindfolded. You’re bound to end up somewhere you didn’t intend and definitely won’t like.
So, I’m asking, how well do you know you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Does this resonate with you?