VERY Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. It is being able to understand your emotions and the emotions and actions of those around you. It is a wonderful topic for emerging leaders and the internal audit industry is currently catching the EI wave. I have been giving a course on EI for three years and I find it a very interesting and helpful subject and something I am constantly trying to hone personally. This weekend was a perfect example.

For the past three years, I have been coaching my son’s basketball team. There has been a core of four to five of the kids that have been together for the entire time. They really are great kids. I am VERY passionate coach and I use my voice to instruct the kids. In other words, I am VERY LOUD. My son and I have clashed because of our relationship and my coaching style. Since July, we have been making plans to hire a coach and begin to move the team to a club level. It finally came to fruition on Sunday. We had lost some close games all year, but this weekend we ended the season on a high note. The boys beat our archrivals and undefeated Bulldogs and rolled over a mid-tier team on Sunday.

Both my son Caleb and I know it is best I do not coach him. He listens but he is extra sensitive at my criticism or instruction. This year, our strife has been minimized since he has finally understood my yelling is not negative and I am just trying to instruct the team. However, my son cried last weekend when we finally found the coach we wanted to take over (even though he likes him a lot). Today, after the game (a 22-14 win), my son hurt his back and was crying. I asked him how he felt and he was upset at me not coaching anymore, not his back!

I identified a significant stress point in my life with coaching. In utilizing EI, I chose to move towards identifying a new coach and having a very smooth transition. I realize what it could do to my relationship with my son and what it did to my relationship with my father and it is not close to being worth risking that. As hard as it was Sunday, I know it is the right decision for both of us.

I asked the kids to send me off with a win and they did. My son played his heart out and it was awesome to see. Caleb lead the team in scoring, had a handful of assists and rebounds and, amazingly, had 15 block shots! Caleb is a smaller kid that plays point guard! He also blocked the game-tying shot on Saturday. I was a very proud coach and, more importantly, father. I know it’s the right decision but that does not make it any easier. EI is about knowing yourself, taking an honest assessment of your positives and negatives and emotional hot buttons and focus on what is best.

One side note – at the beginning of the fourth quarter, I was working on motivating the kids to finish strong. I went into one of my movie speeches without missing a beat. A great little-known football movie from the early 1990’s, Necessary Roughness (if you have never seen it, buy it – it is awesome!). “I know you are hurt, I know you are tired. But if we can win this game, you will feel know pain!”. (I altered the speech to fit basketball). Caleb has this big knowing grin on his face (other kids have NO idea what I am talking about!) and, without missing a beat, does this next quote: “Mr. Blake, he will never touch you.” (the center speaking to our quarterback, the main character, on being able to block Texas State’s star linebacker, Flat Top). Both of us died laughing and it eased their minds and they finished strong. I’m very proud of the boys but again, change is hard, regardless if it’s the right decision or not.

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