As a leader within a company, one of the most undervalued possession we have is data. Data provides the factual information for sound decision making. Investing in our data and the data of others is big for business.
However, I'm not referring to "big data." The data I'm talking about is much, much bigger: Emotional Data.
When we invest in our emotional data, we're investing in the quality of lives. Whether these lives are being played out at home, in the office, on the field, or in the classroom, the value of our investment is often diminished by our lack of awareness and understanding of the data.
Emotions, or feelings, are our waypoints for navigating life. They tell us what we need. They tell us where to go, and often, how to get there. And not only "the good ones." That perspective–labeling our feelings as good or bad immediately shroud us in a veil of clouds, severely impacting our visibility in the signs.
For most of us, this is the norm. We navigate life with feeling blindness, only seeing and investing in the good feelings and by whatever means necessary, avoiding the bad ones. Yet sadness, anxiety, and stress, when recognized as guides, are equally beautiful emotions. Sadness helps us adjust to a loss. It's a catalyst for drawing compassion from others to help us grieve. Anxiety, it's a question being asked from within, an alert to a potential (real or catastrophized) future threat in our environment, triggered by a thought. It begs for our attention. The more we ignore it, the louder it gets. And it can get really, really loud. Stress is an emotion telling us that something important to us is at stake. It initiates a stress response: rising to the challenge, connecting with others (tend and befriend), or prompting us out of the nest to learn and grow.
Each beautiful emotion we hold is best met with curiosity and (self)compassion. But doing so takes courage–lots of courage.
As an individual, amplifying our emotional awareness creates space for emotional freedom. Freedom doesn't mean free from "bad" emotions. It means free from labels, free to experience all emotions with their true intention, sans the judgment, without coupling emotions on top of emotions (I'm feeling anxious. Oh shit, I'm anxious because I'm feeling anxious).
Most importantly, it's freeing ourselves from the emotional ownership we put on emotions - "I'm stressed; "I'm anxious;" "I'm sad." When we do so, we associate our self with the emotion. We are not our emotions. We are humans that experience emotions–"I'm FEELING sad." "I'm FEELING anxious." "I'm FEELING stressed." There's a massive difference. One is permanent, the other is impermanent.
If you're a leader by appointment or leader by example, be it on the home, the court or in the office, having the awareness to all of the above allows you to lead with compassion. It gives you an emotionally intelligent advantage over the emotional obstacles faced day-to-day. Equipped with the awareness, it bestows upon you emotional leadership. It's leading with the light in its truest form.
A cool way to start building our investment in bigger data is growing our emotional vocabulary. Often, "stressed" isn't really stressed... it's frustration. "Anxious" isn't so much anxious as it is uncertainty. Having this distinction allows us puts us on a more accurate path to discovering its source. For a leader, knowing how your people REALLY feel provides you the awareness of an issue, the acceptance of its reality, and the action to use emotional leadership and do something about it. That's a good investment.
Feel free, friends. Dig into your data!
*Up your feeling game by downloading the Mood Meeter App!