Emotional Agility … to be with your thoughts, emotions and stories in ways that are compassionate, curious and courageous

December 5, 2017

I bumped into psychologist Susan David from Harvard Medical School at this year’s Thinkers50 Global Awards Gala, held in London. I was immediately struck by her warm, inspiring and thought provoking presence. Just like her latest book.

I love her thinking on emotional agility. We’ve all heard the one about EQ not IQ, but EA is much better.

One of the biggest challenges I see in leaders today is their ability to have a more flexible mindset, to consider new ideas, alternative perspectives, make new connections, and generally cope with change.

Later that evening she scooped one of the top awards for her latest thinking.

In her book Emotional Agility Susan describes a revolutionary, science-based approach that allows us to navigate life’s twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind. She developed this concept after studying emotions, happiness, and achievement for more than twenty years. She found that no matter how intelligent or creative people are, or what type of personality they have, it is how they navigate their inner world—their thoughts, feelings, and self-talk—that ultimately determines how successful they will become.

The way we respond to these internal experiences drives our actions, careers, relationships, happiness, health—everything that matters in our lives. As humans, we are all prone to common hooks—things like self-doubt, shame, sadness, fear, or anger—that can too easily steer us in the wrong direction. Emotionally agile people are not immune to stresses and setbacks. The key difference is that they know how to adapt, aligning their actions with their values and making small but powerful changes that lead to a lifetime of growth. Emotional agility is not about ignoring difficult emotions and thoughts; it’s about holding them loosely, facing them courageously and compassionately, and then moving past them to bring the best of yourself forward.

In this TED Talk she shares how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving,humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity overemotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility.

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