Creating EQ Initiatives with Six Seconds

Six Seconds works with organizations around the world to develop emotional intelligence projects. This is the first in a series of articles to help new organizations build from that experience. This overview provides some rationale as well as the key principles by which Six Seconds operates.

Why?

The skills of emotional intelligence are critical for creating more positive and successful relationships. In a more scientific definition, emotional intelligence is simply a term to describe the way the brain processes emotions -- which is similar to the way it processes ideas. The same brain functions that can be seen in "intelligence" also apply to emotions, there is the equivalent of interpretation, analysis, reflection, and decision making that occurs with other kinds of ideas.

The skills of emotional intelligence are needed to break the cycle of violence and human poverty, to increase the effectiveness of individuals and organizations, and to create a more positive context for healthy relationships and communities. The challenge is to allow people to step out of the system in which they were raised -- a system that says, "might is right," that says "to increase my power I must destroy yours," and which says, "If I am to be right, you must be wrong."

In addition to dividing ourselves from each other, in that system we also divide ourselves from our selves. Our thinking brains are separate from our emotions. Our family values are divorced from our lives at work. Our spiritual selves are not welcome in daily life.

In that system, it is very hard to think clearly -- or to feel clearly. We create a constant conflict because it is a world of polarized points of view.

So what would happen if we could pause, and step outside that system, and utilize all the parts of ourselves -- and see each other as human beings -- not just equal independent beings, but inseparable parts of a whole. What would happen if we could create a community of people who had the skills and commitment to practice this wholeness?

Perhaps they would change only themselves -- and that is the only place to start. Perhaps, though, this model would be an infectious "disease" -- a "virus of conscience" spread by people who were finding more life in their lives, people who were abundant with their connections to others, people who were glowing with care.

How?

On the one hand, it seems that we way to start this process is to organize, to create a network of committed people, to raise funds, to wave a flag. On the other, it seems to require one-to-one conversation, or even conversation within ourselves. To develop this kind of organization, it may be useful to consider some of the operating principles of Six Seconds.

1. Start With Ourselves.

Like all efforts for social transformation, emotional intelligence can and will only work if it starts with each of us as a model. Not a model of perfection, not an idealized falsehood -- but a model of real people making real efforts to use all of the best of themselves, day by day, moment by moment.

As we become caught up in the logistical struggles of organizing a network, building a foundation, rallying support, and training people in the skills of emotional intelligence, the biggest challenge is to keep practicing the skills we are teaching. And to create a context in a team where it only makes sense to keep practicing together.

On the topic of "walking the talk," it is also critical that the products reflect the principles. For example, making an EQ presentation with nothing but lecture would violate the integrity of your message. One of the biggest challenges is to keep inventing new ways so our work is emotionally meaningful, totally without threat, multisensory, and hands-on.

2. Give It Away

There is a tension between the creation of the intellectual property that will make the organization viable and the goal of spreading the skills and tools far and wide. Despite the legitimate reasons for "holding the card close to your chest" it is good business to give the product away. If you are creating good tools, people will want more of what you have to offer, clients will want to go to the source. At the same time, there are real issues of property theft and of quality control. You do not want people presenting themselves as your representative unless they are doing so in accordance with your vision and values.

Six Seconds' compromise is to put the decision in the hands of the people using our materials -- for example, our certification agreement says that if you do a workshop that is 49% or less based on Six Seconds' content, then you are free to do what you please with our property. If it is 50% or more based on our content, then the work is subject to our quality-control and license fees -- and we will help more.

3. Noble Goals Are Guides.

The purpose of a noble goal is to connect your daily actions with your deepest aspirations. It is a guiding compass. In an organization (and in any relationship), it is useful to be clear that our noble goals can differ and also be mutually supportive. In other words, we may not be going to exactly the same place, but we can travel there together. Or, maybe we find that we can not do so, and it is time to gracefully separate.

This recognition of alignment is critical because it builds trust and allows for collaboration. If we each can hold on to the fact that the others in the organization are doing their very best to pursue their noble goals, then we can be much more tolerant of the day-to-day differences.

This principle applies equally to relationships with other organizations. Six Seconds always starts from a position of trust and belief that other organizations are doing their utmost to fulfil critical and complimentary goals. They just do so in their own ways, and like us, they have challenges. This position opens the door to collaboration.

4. Support Your Allies.

There are many "natural partners" for this work; they do not fall into a traditional demographic. They are change agents committed to using their best selves to create a more positive context for relationships. They are leaders in business, education, government, healthcare, religion, and in the community. On one hand, they yearn to connect better with one another to support the work they are doing, on another they are incredibly busy, and often overwhelmed.

So to tap into this pool of remarkable people, you will need a mechanism to provide them energy, not to take theirs. Work from the attitude that your efforts will nurture their noble goals, that the efforts of your organization are dedicated supporting these leaders, and they will be better able to support you.

5. Make It Visible

We are also committed to providing visible results to our work -- our small team has been incredibly productive because we start with the assumption that it IS possible for a small group of people to have significant impact. A snake can eat an elephant -- one bite at a time. The challenge is to make a plan and then flexibly follow it; it takes vigilance, creativity, and passion to pursue the objective without violating the other principles.

Source: Joshua Freedman, Six Seconds EQ Network