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Going for Gold

A lesson in emotional intelligence

From egg and spoon races to the Olympic stadium, everyone’s eyes are on first place and reaching the top. But winning the gold medal requires more than technical ability. To be the best of the best, you need to be confident, resilient, and able to effectively manage your emotions. In other words, you need emotional intelligence.

This is also true for those of us who are not national, global, or Olympic champions. Research shows that emotional intelligence predicts success outside of sporting arenas, such as in the workplace.

So, what can we learn from our favourite athletes to help us become more emotionally intelligent?

1) Recognise and understand the impact of emotions

Emotionally intelligent athletes are aware of the emotions they are experiencing and how these might help or hinder their performance. This knowledge is essential for managing your emotions. For example, if you are aware that you make more mistakes when angry, you could take steps to minimise the potentially negative impact anger has on your performance. Equally, if you notice someone else is feeling angry, you would also be aware that they are more likely to be making mistakes. In the world of sport, this can provide athletes with an advantage over their opponents. In the workplace, it can be the first sign that a colleague may need your help.

2) Bounce back from stress and setbacks

Performing well under pressure and managing pre-competition anxiety is all part of being a successful and emotionally intelligent athlete. Studies of top athletes highlighted the importance of being able to learn from setbacks and remain optimistic. If they miss a shot, make a mistake, or even fall over, they cannot afford to dwell on what went wrong. Instead, athletes focus on their next move. Similarly, we should develop strategies to help us deal with stressful situations in a more resilient and optimistic way.

3) Aim high in what you love

It goes without saying that in order to reach the top you have to aim for it, and it is much easier to achieve your goals when you enjoy what you are doing. Athletes are a prime example as they continually set themselves challenging targets in a sport that they feel passionate about. They are committed to their goals and will persevere to reach their ambitions. It is only by setting meaningful goals that you will be motivated to learn, grow, and develop.

So, whether it’s at the Olympics or your workplace, become a higher performer by developing your emotional intelligence today.

Learn more about emotional intelligence here.

Birwatkar, V. P. (2014). Emotional intelligence: The invisible phenomenon in sports. European Journal of Sports and Exercise Science, 3(3), 19-31.

Stein, S. J., & Book, H. E. (2011). The EQ edge: Emotional intelligence and your success. (3rd Edition). John Wiley & Sons.

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