Mentally Strong Leaders Don’t Walk Backwards.

We’ve all met them. Kids who did so poor in school they were lucky to graduate but now are at the top in the business world. Or the co-worker who is absolutely brilliant but stuck in an entry level position blaming his boss for not recognizing his true potential. Why does one succeed where another fails? What distinguishes average leaders from outstanding leaders? (image courtesy of

Dr. Daniel Goleman, an internationally know psychologist and science journalist, asserts that emotional intelligence (defined as the capability to be self-aware, self-managing, interpersonally effective, stress tolerant, and optimistic) counts for 80-90% of the factors that distinguish average from outstanding leaders. His research indicates that the higher a leader rises in an organization, the less important technical skills become, and the more important EQ becomes.

This is a clear indication that in order to move from good to great we need to grow our emotional capacity.

Mentally strong people avoid wasting energy on things they can’t control. “Complaining is like bad breath, you notice it when it comes out of somebody else’s mouth, but not your own.” ~Rev. Will Bowen. Outstanding leaders understand that in a bad situation the only thing you can control is your attitude and response.

Mentally strong people avoid dwelling on the past. Successful people learn from past successes and mistakes and continually strive to move forward, eliminating the temptation to allow the past to become an anchor holding them back from growing to meet the next challenge.

“A retentive memory may be a good thing but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness... Be a good forgetter. Business dictates it, and success demands it.” ~Elbert Hubbard.

Mentally strong people avoid wasting time feeling sorry for themselves.  You can’t moan and lead at the same time, so don’t dwell on your circumstances or what happened to you. Never waste a crisis. Understand that sometimes life is not fair, and be grateful for the lessons you have learned.

Mentally strong people avoid making the same mistake over and over. Research shows that the ability to be self reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.

How to avoid making the same mistake over and over:

  1. Reflect daily. “What happened in my world today?” “What could I have changed?” Past reflection can be good if it will affect future action.
  2. Be honest with yourself and take the excuses away. “What did I learn about myself today?” “Human nature seems to endow every person with the ability to size up everyone but himself” ~ John Maxwell.
  3. Self Talk. What what you are saying about yourself. “95% of your emotions are determined by the way you talk to yourself” ~Brian Tracy.
  4. Take action. “Does my reflection lead to action?”

What are you going to do today to begin developing your Emotional Intelligence?