Be courageous enough to look at your own life. Become curious about what triggers you and what makes you happy. Create a tracking system to become conscious of your emotions so you can identify patterns. This is an activity I give my coaching clients as we begin our work together. Once they identify their upset emotions, they become indicators of what parts of them need healing during our coaching work. I also have them identify the experiences that bring them joy and upliftment. The more they heal, the easier it is for them to see the “good” in their lives.
As a part of our series about “Emotional Intelligence, I had the pleasure of interviewingChristine Hazen Molina.
Christine Hazen Molina guides business leaders and their teams on a path of self and social awareness, sharing tangible tools for effective communication in difficult situations at work and at home.
Christine is the founder and CEO of Heartfelt Workforce, a boutique consulting firm that provides leaders with strategic consultation in professional team development. She has more than 30 years’ experience in Human Resources training, coaching, and consulting. She applies her expertise to human behavior in the workplace through soft skills mastery via Emotional and Social Intelligence training.
A graduate in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica (USM), Christine is the author of the affirmation card deck “Heartfelt Lessons for Self-Love” and hosts the daily meditation podcast “Fill Your Cup” Morning Meditation and Inspiration.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in a family as the only girl with four brothers. I was outnumbered by the boys, but I was Dad’s little princess. I could do no wrong in his eyes, but it caused lots of resentment from my brothers. My Dad was an entrepreneur in the construction business, and he encouraged my brothers to learn the trades. I was the only one in my family to attend college because I planned to be a teacher. No way would I work for the family business!
However, after two years in college, I changed my major from education to business. I had a desire to learn about the dynamics of our family business and work side by side with my dad as his administrative assistant. I loved working with Dad and learned so much from him about the intricacies of running a business.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
Dad inspired and encouraged me to study business in college and work with him while being mentored by him. Unfortunately, I did not have a supportive environment for studying my schoolwork. I attended my classes and then headed right to my job without a solid plan for completing my homework. After another semester of unsuccessfully navigating school and work, I chose to leave school so I could by my dad’s full-time assistant.
Honestly, I felt so much guilt for leaving school, but knew it was the right choice for me at the time. Sadly, Dad died of a sudden heart attack 18 months later. I not only lost my father, but I lost my mentor and the patriarch of our family. It would be many years before I realized what a gift it was to have those 18 months working together. I could go back to school anytime, but I would never be able to make up the precious time I had with him.
After his death, however, everything changed at work. That is when I shifted roles and embraced an opportunity to create a formal Human Resources department for the business.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
Our business had grown tremendously in the decades following Dad’s passing. What started out small grew to employ over 350 team members. We had hired business coaches throughout the years, and the most influential to me was Steve Chandler. He would spend two days a month meeting with department managers to help them grow as leaders. His approach differed from the command-and-control coaches we’d had in the past. Steve was warm and kind. In effect, he was educating us on the basics of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as he taught our team about being “owners” of our lives, not “victims.” This opened up a different way of being for me!
Steve was also my inspiration for discovering the University of Santa Monica where I received my graduate degree in Spiritual Psychology — my core learning around EQ.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
After I left the family business and started my own consulting firm, Heartfelt Workforce, I began consulting and training people in businesses in my community. I soon realized that people bring their own emotional baggage to work, which was not different from what happened in our family business. In addition to working with businesses, I thought I could help individuals live with more intention, so I began hosting personal development workshops based on the University of Santa Monica curriculum. My workshops included “Heartfelt Communication Skills”, “Living with Intention”, “The Healing Power of Forgiveness”, “Discovering the Wisdom of Your Heart” — to name a few.
After one of my workshops, a client who had attended all of them pulled me aside and asked if I knew I was teaching Emotional Intelligence. I had heard of EQ but had not connected the dots. She suggested I read the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry. Sure enough, I read it and agreed. Yes, indeed, the life skills I was teaching were Emotional Intelligence skills. As I dove deeper into researching the work of its originator, Daniel Goleman, I reflected on my two years of deep inner work at USM. I came to discover that my studies in Spiritual Psychology indeed correlated with EQ. I was immersed in the study and application of personal and social competencies. Once I realized this, I was able to share my stories and connect the dots to EQ when training and coaching.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
That is a great question, and I have a few suggestions for a young entrepreneur. I suggest you trust your intuition and follow that guidance. Embrace every crisis because you will grow from each experience. Keep taking steps every day toward achieving your vision. Sometimes, you must even take action before you are ready. Your path may take you in a different direction than you thought, but see it as an opportunity to learn from that path. My path was not straight and narrow, yet I learned much from each experience.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Early in my career, I was inspired by the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Everything in the book resonated for me to become a better leader in business and in my life. The 7th habit, Sharpening the Saw, is the habit I strive to live by today to continue my growth: mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Later in my career, I was deeply moved by Brené Brown’s TEDx talk The Power of Vulnerability. It expanded my learning around psychology and human behavior, the main focus in my consulting practice. The topics of vulnerability, shame, and connection were so aligned with my studies in Spiritual Psychology that I could expand my knowledge base to share with my clients. To this day, I use video clips from Brené Brown in my training presentations. I love every one of her books as well as her new podcast “Dare to Lead.” Her work continues to inspire me ten years later!
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
My favorite quote is from Lao Tzu:
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
This truly resonates with me because this was my path of learning life’s lessons. I spent many years living unconsciously while taking care of others. I thought that was what I was supposed to do! After a dark period in my life including a divorce, I finally got help. I learned to take ownership of my life instead of expecting others to make me happy. The more I took responsibility for my behavior, the more I learned to take responsibility for my own happiness. This is what I believe correlates with “mastering oneself is true power.”
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I have been facilitating Emotional Intelligence training for the past three years in Arizona, specifically in the City of Tucson government. I have been part of its facilitating team in the Leadership Academy, which is building a leadership pipeline as people in the Baby Boomer generation retire. I am also facilitating EQ training with teams in the Police and Water Departments. In this time, I have witnessed multiple changes among the people I have worked with. I see how they are bringing EQ skills to their own teams, families, and communities. This, in turn, creates a ripple effect that will ultimately be felt by their customers, the citizens of Tucson.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority about Emotional Intelligence?
As mentioned earlier, I became an authority on Emotional Intelligence because I dove deep into my own personal learning in EQ while at the University of Santa Monica (USM). I spent my entire first year at USM diving deep into self-awareness and self-management through course work and homework.
My second year at USM focused on taking those foundational skills about social awareness and relationship management and diving into how I am with others in my life. One of our assignments was identifying an especially difficult relationship in our lives and turn it into an EQ project for the entire year.
My relationship project centered on my brother, who had been my direct supervisor in our family business. Prior to this yearlong project, we had a very strained relationship. However, during and after it, our connection flourished. He never knew about the inner healing work I was doing — work that, in turn, healed our relationship. It reflected the premise of applying EQ skills — that is, people learning to take responsibility for their lives.
Since immersing myself in EQ skills, I have made them the foundation for my coaching, training, and consulting with organizations and individuals for the past 11 years through Heartfelt Workforce.
For the benefit of our readers, can you help to define what Emotional Intelligence is?
In the simplest terms, Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. I believe EI also includes self-mastery plus social intelligence or SI.
These are the four pillars of EQ: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management.
Self-Awareness is about knowing yourself, your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and actions. It is also knowing what makes you happy and what triggers you. I believe it is also having the ability to self-reflect. Self-Awareness is the foundation for all the other pillars.
Self-Management is having the ability to identify, feel, and regulate your emotions. I also believe this pillar is about how you manage your life, including self-care. This involves finding quiet time for meditation and connection with the Universe (or whatever you call your Higher Power).
Social Awareness is about understanding how you are in relationship with others in your life. It also includes how you communicate and listen to others. It is about having the ability to understand the emotions of those around you.
Relationship Management is about strengthening and nurturing your relationships over time while consciously fostering and honoring those relationships already in your life.
How is Emotional Intelligence different from what we normally refer to as intelligence?
A person’s IQ is a score that represents his or her reasoning and problem-solving ability. EQ is different. It reflects a person’s intelligent understanding of emotions and how it effects one’s life.
Can you help explain a few reasons why Emotional Intelligence is such an important characteristic? Can you share a story or give some examples?
I believe that EQ skills are particularly important life skills. The more people become aware of themselves, their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, the better they can create the changes needed to help them live better. I will share a story about a coaching client of mine. She had been promoted to a leadership position at work and was struggling with seeing herself as a leader. She held many judgments toward herself of not being good enough or smart enough for this new position.
As we began our work together, I had her track the upsets or triggers in her life. She tracked each upset (the emotion she was feeling) and gave it a number from 1 to 100. Once she started tracking, she became aware that when she was with her supervisor, she felt fear and sadness. So, we dove deep into where these emotions came from. At that point, she was able to identify experiences and similar emotions that came up when she was younger. As she healed this part of herself, she was then able to see how it was affecting many of her relationships. Her emotions became conscious indicators of healing opportunities for her. After realizing that, her confidence skyrocketed. Since then, she has sincerely believed in herself and her amazing ability to be a leader.
Would you feel comfortable sharing a story or anecdote about how Emotional Intelligence has helped you in your life? We would love to hear about it.
Many years ago, when I was raising my family and working in our family business, I was not aware that I was repressing emotions from a trauma that occurred in my former marriage. Although I felt sad and angry, it was not safe for me to feel and express these emotions. Instead, I put on my happy face and stayed busy, so I would not have to face my pain.
In fact, I got addicted to busyness. It was my escape from my inner pain. It was not until when I took my daughter to therapy that her therapist looked at me and said, “Chris, when are you going to come see me for YOU?”
I was shocked she could see right through my happy-face mask and sense my pain. Because I could not hide it anymore, I finally committed to getting help. Early in my two years of therapy, I finally learned to identify when I was sad or angry — emotions I had repressed for so long. The therapist taught me to feel my anger and release it in safe way.
Honestly, I was fearful to see the truth of what my emotions were telling me. Yet slowly, I began to see my life more clearly. I had been living so unconsciously before therapy. Then as I healed, I became aware of my own thoughts, emotions, and behavior. I did not know the term Emotional Intelligence, yet this was my awakening to the intelligence of my emotions.
Can you share some specific examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help a person become more successful in the business world?
I believe that leaders with strong EQ skills are successful in their organizations because they understand their own emotions and how to regulate them, especially in challenging times. Being conscious of their own emotions, they can be more tuned in to the emotions of their employees and how that might correlate to their behavior at work.
In his book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry states, “EQ is so critical to success that it accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs. It’s the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.”
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have better relationships?
As people work to become more aware of themselves and take ownership of their own lives, they create a better relationship with themselves. And then, as they experience a healthier way of being with themselves, they can then become aware of how they are in relationship with others, whether it is family, friends, colleagues, or in community. By living these skills, they cause a ripple effect of healthier relationships in all areas of their lives.
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have more optimal mental health?
As people learn to shift their way of being by strengthening their EQ skills, they can navigate challenges differently in their lives. Instead of dealing with fear and stressful thought patterns from the unknown, they can become aware of them. They can learn to see the truth of what is happening. Then they can find greater emotional equanimity and ultimately create optimal mental health for themselves.
Ok. Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you recommend five things that anyone can do to develop a greater degree of Emotional Intelligence? Please share a story or example for each.
- Be courageous enough to look at your own life. Become curious about what triggers you and what makes you happy. Create a tracking system to become conscious of your emotions so you can identify patterns. This is an activity I give my coaching clients as we begin our work together. Once they identify their upset emotions, they become indicators of what parts of them need healing during our coaching work. I also have them identify the experiences that bring them joy and upliftment. The more they heal, the easier it is for them to see the “good” in their lives.
- Focus on your self-care, honoring your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self. Participate in activities that honor all these parts of you. I highly recommend creating a tracking system where you can make commitments to yourself and then acknowledge yourself when you complete each one. Also find some type of meditation practice to connect with your inner guidance and the Universe, even if it is for only 10 or 20 minutes as you begin your day.
- Learn to listen deeper in your conversations with others. Keep your focus on the other person and see through the eyes of compassion and respect. Ask open-ended questions to expand your conversation and create a safe space for others to share without judgment. This builds real connection and lets others know you genuinely care about them.
- Strengthen the most important relationships in your life. Sometimes they are the people in your own home whom we can easily take for granted. Share gratitude or small acts of kindness to show how much they mean to you. Be vulnerable and share about yourself. Be an inspiration to others to open up and be open with you, too.
- Create a support system with those who love you. Let them know you are on a journey to improve your EQ skills. This can include a trusted friend, therapist, coach, and/or community where you feel safe. I believe your support system can also include the Universe or whatever you call your Higher Power.
Do you think our educational system can do a better job at cultivating Emotional Intelligence? What specific recommendations would you make for schools to help students cultivate Emotional Intelligence?
Yes, I believe EQ skills need to be part of the curriculum in the education system at all ages. Skills such as simply learning to listen to each other can be taught. For example, before entering kindergarten, my grandson was in a program where the kids learned to “talk it out” when they felt triggered or upset. It was so impressive to see this simple skill in action. It taught him to share his emotions! He also brought those skills home to family members who began to use them.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
The movement I had been inspired to lead was, and still is, to help create more human-centered workplaces that emulate respect, caring, and compassion. I received that inspiration when I started my consulting business, Heartfelt Workforce, 11 years ago. At the time, I heard from some leaders that my vison was too “woo woo” and “mushy.” They said businesses would not be interested in “heart-centered” practices. I felt disheartened to hear that — for only one day. I realized the leaders I was speaking with would not be my ideal clients. I knew there were leaders who would love to bring these skills to their organizations. Today, these conscious leaders seek me out for my heartfelt approach.
My movement to support more heartfelt workplaces has grown as the awareness of Emotional Intelligence has. It’s due to the powerful outcomes leaders and teams experience as they live and work the skills every day. I just completed an EQ review course for leaders in the City of Tucson Ignite Leadership Academy. Participants shared how the EQ skills they learned in my course supported them so much before and especially during the pandemic.
Many years ago, when I was beginning my self-discovery journey, I told my therapist I wanted to make a difference in my community. Fast forward 15 years. I know I am making a difference with those I work with — in my community and beyond.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I would be honored to have a meeting with Brené Brown because she is such a powerful inspiration to me in the authentic teachings she shares. My work is aligned with hers, and I would love for her to know about my successes in the workplace.
Another inspiring leader I would love to meet is Arianna Huffington. She inspired me by how she took her crisis of physical exhaustion and transformed her self-care awareness into being a champion of wellness with Thrive Global. Her authenticity in writing about herself and her desire to help others gives me encouragement to continue sharing my message about emotional wellness.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can find my website at www.heartfeltworkforce.com or follow me on social media:
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.
Thank you, it has been an honor to be part of this interview series about Emotional Intelligence.