Start a gratitude/win’s journal: I have all of my clients do this and in fact, I still do this myself to this day. Each morning you wake up, write down at least three things you’re grateful for, but you have to really feel that gratitude, it’s not enough to just write it down, you have to get into that state of gratefulness. This sets the stage for your day. At the end of the day, write down three wins you had that day. They can be tiny or big, it doesn’t matter. For example, you got up on the first alarm even when you didn’t want to. But this is one way to start reprogramming your brain away from the negatives and into the positive. Where focus goes, energy flows, so the more you focus on the positive, the more it will expand in your life.
As a part of our series about “Emotional Intelligence, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brenda Lee.
Brenda Lee is a Destiny Strategist to some of the world’s most exciting entrepreneurs and professionals who have all the trappings of success, but have become disconnected from their Destiny. Through her groundbreaking methodology, Brenda works privately with her clients to create the most potent pathway to their Destiny — she calls this Destination Unstoppable You™. When working with Brenda, her clients are able to create unlimited success in relationships, business, health, wealth and life.
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?
Of course! Thanks so much for having me!
You know, I grew up in quite a volatile and religious home. My dad ruled with an iron fist, God bless him, but it made for a highly stressful environment when he was home. He was just doing what his parents taught him. Thankfully he traveled often so we got some relief when he was gone. My mom worked like a dog and was constantly trying to put out the emotional fires we were all dealing with, and usually not in a healthy way either as she was just doing what she knew.
My parents were like oil and water, and that led to an environment that constantly created emotional, verbal and/or physical abuse and definitely a lot of anger in the home. It was tough, and I was the youngest so I was left at home a lot of the time to deal with the aftermath of their failed relationship. Plus, we lived out in the country so we didn’t have a lot of other kids to play with. My older brother that still lived at home was pretty angry (rightfully so), and once I turned 10, our relationship dwindled for a time. None of us had the emotional tools to deal with what was going on in our home on a daily basis, so we all just did our own thing and tried to survive.
But at the time I didn’t know any different, you know, I didn’t realize how dysfunctional our home was until I was way down the line as an adult. It just was what it was and as kids, you don’t really talk to your friends and compare notes on the health of your family.
So, at that time, I just submersed myself into my horses. I always had a curious and free spirit, but that wasn’t able to be expressed in my house without consequences. But one thing I knew was that when I was with my horses, I didn’t feel any of that stifling or chaos. Think of the movie Brave, right? She was so curious and always bucking up against the system and I was just like her, dying to be set free.
Horses became my escape and my happy place, and they taught me so much about love, honesty, and acceptance. They’re quite a unique animal in that they are very emotional themselves and of course they never judge! When I would go out to be with my horses, it was like I was in a whole different world. I was free. I could be who I wanted to be and not be stifled under any fear or scrutiny of my parents. They always accepted me and really taught me about unconditional love.
So that began my passion for horses, and through showing horses, I met my ex-husband, had kids, lived on a farm, was married for 14 years, got divorced, moved to Idaho to be closer to my parents and the rest is still being written!
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
It really is a case of ‘what’ inspired me and honestly, it’s simply my experiences in life that led me here. My marriage of 14 years was quite tumultuous, very similar to my parent’s relationship. You do what you know, so even though I never dated anyone like my ex, I ended up marrying the one guy that was like my dad, essentially. There’s a subconscious pull toward experiences that are known to you, even if they aren’t the best. Our brains just naturally do that as there is more fear in the unknown than the known, so that’s exactly what happened for me.
So, I landed myself in this relationship at the age of 23, and because we didn’t live together prior to marriage and we dated long distance, I had no idea who this guy and his family really were.
The trouble was, my ex had a major issue with pornography since childhood that I was completely unaware of when we got married, and I was too naive to even realize it until we were a good year plus into the marriage. I wasn’t willing to accept it, and he wasn’t willing to change.
Now I’m not saying everything else was perfect or that I was, but this was a barrier that wouldn’t even allow us to get to the other issues. But I felt stuck like I couldn’t get divorced because of all the religious conditioning. And quite frankly, because of the conditioning of watching my parents. They were highly toxic for each other, yet they stayed married for 24 years, so I thought that’s just what you do.
I realized 7 years into my marriage that he wasn’t going to give up his desire for pornography. And that’s typical of a porn addict, they don’t want to let go of it at all costs. It can be as addictive as cocaine in some people, making it very difficult for them to break free from that.
So, once I realized he wasn’t going to make a shift, I realized that I needed to stop focusing on his problem and start addressing my own issues, rightfully. I knew I had some daddy issues, I knew I was a terrible communicator like my mom, and I knew I was now harboring a lot of shame over my femininity due to the pornography issues. I wanted to address those things in me to be the best I could be and walk away as clean as possible. That began my journey of working with one of the best Neurofeedback doctors in the world, studying every book I could get my hands on, listening to all the resources I could find on the internet, and going to multiple different counselors. It was quite overwhelming, but I wasn’t willing to relent. Thankfully it got me to the point of having enough courage to leave that highly toxic marriage.
After I had gone through my divorce, that naturally landed me around a lot of other divorced people. But I kept seeing this pattern with so many post divorcees that they were stuck in what I call the Double D’s, the Divorce Depression. People were walking around with their identity wrapped up in their previous marriage and they felt like they were broken, that something was wrong with them. It broke my heart!
No one gets divorced to continue to be stuck in misery for years. The average time it takes someone to recover from divorce is 7 years, and that was simply insane to me! I had gotten myself out of the Double D’s rather quickly, so I knew I held the keys that would help other people get out of it as well.
I found myself coaching people through their issues just as a friend or while I was even on a date, then, with the encouragement of others around me, I realized I was made to have a career out of this. So, I literally made a decision to dissolve my company and went all in helping people as a full-time career. Since then, I have never looked back! It’s the most rewarding and fulfilling career to see people step into their true destiny of being who they were created to be!
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?
Oh, for sure! There are quite a few, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you the most influential one is my mom. She is an extraordinary example of grit, dedication, and tenacity. She has a spirit in her that never gives up. She always told me growing up, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” That in and of itself always gave me the courage that I could do whatever I wanted if I wanted it badly enough, and that no obstacle can’t be overcome. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have that instilled in me from such a young age. It gave me the courage to face things even when I’m scared, even when everyone else is telling me not to go forward. It equipped me with the same tenacity to take some major risks throughout my life.
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?
You know, no matter how much you study or learn, there are always going to be mistakes made along the way, that’s just part of the experience. There’s plenty to choose from, but the most impactful one and hardest learned was hiring the wrong employee.
I was so desperate for help I was willing to take on whatever help, and the first help, I got. I didn’t slow down and really listen to my gut…and I knew better! As a single mom of four, I was desperate for some relief and I didn’t care how it came. That was my first mistake, making a decision out of desperation. And secondly, not implementing what I train people to do!! I’m human, and I struggle with the exact same things my clients do every day. I’ve got the tools, resources, and training to typically rise above them. But in this case, not following my own advice by reigning my emotional state before making a critical business decision cost me.
This employee wasn’t able to connect with clients because she was letting her own pain override her ability to make the best decisions for the potential client. Her own emotional mess clouded her judgment and it was drastically affecting her performance on the job. It was unfortunate, as I could see her potential, but she emotionally threw in the towel before she could even get close. And this is such a common issue and people don’t even realize they are doing it. People are constantly walking around clouded by their emotional pain and baggage not having the tools or wherewithal to get out of it.
Employees are a direct reflection of you and your business, and if you don’t hire rockstar players, then you’re not going to be able to operate at the rockstar level. It wasn’t shortly after I hired her that I realized she hadn’t done the emotional work to be able to do the job and serve other people instead of being triggered into her own emotional pain. So, the old saying is true, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. It cost me significantly in time, money, and most importantly the representation of my company. Not necessarily funny, but it was a critical lesson learned.
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?
Never give up on your dreams. Don’t ever have a plan B. If you have a plan B, you will focus your energy there and not on fulfilling plan A. You will make excuses not to execute Plan A if you have a plan B. You’ll let doubt take over instead of pressing through it and facing your fears. You’ll let all the other voices win that are telling you you’re crazy for pursuing your dream. And you won’t put in every ounce of you if you think you have an escape plan. You will struggle, you will make mistakes, you will doubt yourself, you will question if you’re capable, and you will fail on some things. But the only true failure is not learning from your mistakes.
Now it’s not easy, I’m not going to pretend it is. It’s hard as hell and there were several days, sometimes in a row, that I wanted to throw in the towel and go back to general contracting. Especially as a single mom of four kids. It was terrifying some days realizing I walked away from an incredible job and career path to pursue my passion of transforming other people’s lives when I had eight little eyes looking back at me and depending on me to make sure everything was ok. The housing market in my area was exploding at the time, and still is honestly, and I can’t tell you how many times I thought I was crazy for not doing the job that would produce the most income. As a single mom, it was terrifying to not have that security. But I didn’t have plan B and that’s what has kept me on course.
And top that with having to sacrifice hours of time with my family and social events with friends. I had to skip vacations and I put many midnight hours in my office after the kids were in bed in order to build this company from scratch. It has grown so much that it’s all worth it, but it definitely comes at a cost. If I had a Plan B and didn’t remind myself of my purpose daily, I would have bailed 10,000 times over!
The problem was, once my heart saw how people needed to be freed to be who they were created to be and that I had the gifts, knowledge, and skill to get them there, I couldn’t turn back. The results my clients were having were astounding and no amount of money can take the feeling away of drastically changing the trajectory of someone’s life and their kids’ lives too. I always tell my clients the best gift they can give me is to teach these methods to their kids. If we can equip the next generation on how to deal with their emotions, we’d be in a whole different, glorious, and accepting world! But to keep you going when the going gets rough, remind yourself of why you’re doing this daily, and don’t ever lose sight of your purpose.
The other piece of advice I’d give is to surround yourself with the best people you can get your hands on. Don’t compromise on who you give your time to. You become the sixth of the top five people you hang out with. Really evaluate if those five people are living the values, quality of life, and are stepping into the courage the way you want for yourself. When you waiver and doubt yourself, because you will, remind yourself who you are at your core and why you’re going after your dream, and most importantly, surround yourself with people who will do the same when you don’t have it in you!
We don’t realize how many people actually don’t want us to succeed until we start succeeding. Even family members will try to squelch your dreams. It’s quite shocking and can go unnoticed if you don’t have a trained eye for it. People just get used to the dynamics of familial relationships; you often can’t see the traps in it. But take a step back and really look at your relationships around you objectively and discern who is really for you and who is slyly trying to keep you stifled. Choose your people very wisely!
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?
Yes, definitely! Dr. Joe Dispenza has probably been the most influential person not only in my life, personally, but in my work, and in my understanding of human behavior. The first book I read of his was Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. It was recommended by a great friend and doctor, and I wasn’t all that interested in it as the title seemed a bit…off-putting. I remember thinking, “what’s wrong with me that I need to break the habit of?!”
This book really made me realize how stuck we all get, myself included, in the belief that life is just what it is and we have no control over it. And that simply isn’t true. Until I understood the power of our subconscious mind and how to harness and train it, I was just a victim of life’s circumstances, going through the motions day in and day out.
And it’s actually one of the critical books that embolden me to leave my ex-husband. When I realized that I wasn’t stuck, that I had a choice and I had a few tools from the book to start reprogramming my subconscious mind, it opened up a whole new world of possibility. And that was the beginning of the end of my marriage. I had knowledge, and I was breaking the habit of being myself (all the conditioning I thought was me) and creating my own future.
There’s so much there that I could go on for hours about Dr. Joe’s work, but he is phenomenal and I’d recommend him to everyone!
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Yeah, I said it earlier, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” When I am feeling defeated or hopeless in a situation, just saying those words completely reframes my thought process and repositions me back into a powerful state. It opens up the door to creativity to solve the problem and takes the focus off of the negative aspects of what you’re facing.
I remember a time when financially I was at the end of my rope. I had poured all I had into launching and expanding my business to the online space beyond just word of mouth, and you know I was really feeling in that moment that I had screwed up, that I should have kept that contracting company and kept building houses.
And then I remembered “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” and I was reframed immediately. When we are in a victim state, we can’t think creatively and come up with solutions, we only see the problem. So, at that moment, it snapped me out of that fearful, victim state and opened up my thought process to ask where the ‘way’ was. It allowed my mind to see a solution that was always there in front of me, it was actually in front of me for months, and I just couldn’t see it in that state and that changed the trajectory of my business ever since.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’ve just started doing public speaking and I’m loving it! You know, I always thought I was afraid to do public speaking. I would get knee-knocking nervous in college when I had to do a presentation. At one of my corporate jobs early on, I was the one assigned to go on the local news about Coats 4 Kids and I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack! I really had this belief that I was terrible at it and that I hated it.
Here recently I was going through some pictures of me as a kid and I saw several of me when I was little up on stages with singers, dancing in front of people, in the choir, and doing recitals with no reservation. I realized, and this is just recently mind you, that all that fear of speaking was just more conditioning that has been ruling my life. I had realized that the fear of speaking was based solely on limiting beliefs about myself, the conditioning I received as a kid that I should be afraid of it, and fear of rejection on some level from the audience and just people in general.
So, speaking has been something, for the first time in my life, I’ve really been enjoying. Once I got so on purpose in my career, I couldn’t help but be excited to get the word out to the masses but this fear of speaking has held me back quite a bit. So, coupled with realizing it hasn’t been my fear all along, I am beyond excited to expand my reach to the masses through speaking. I can’t help but want to scream my heart from the rooftops no matter how much I may screw it up or be ‘unseasoned’ at it. And I’m on a mission to do exactly that, to free people to be their authentic selves in any and every modality I can.
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?
Of course! I giggle about this, but it’s because of my parents! It really is. By watching, living with, and interacting with my dad who totally lacked emotions except anger coupled with a mom that was not emotionally regulated, I was living with the two extremes of emotional dysfunction. Now this doesn’t make them bad people in any way, they truly were doing the best they could and are phenomenal people that taught me a ton, but it’s just evidence of how few people understand emotional regulation and how to deal with it despite their best efforts.
But what this did was teach me more than any letters or courses could teach. I could give you my certifications, courses taken, and all that, but what truly gives me authority is my experience and how I rose up out of them. I have spent over two decades studying with counselors and quite frankly, they’ve taught me what not to do. So often they spend time in the past and just asking, “How do you feel about that?” All that is doing is memorizing the pain of the past and keeping you stuck. I’m about getting results and actually producing extraordinary transformation in people. It’s not enough for me to have my clients sit in the mess of their life, that’s exactly what they want to move on from. But continuing to talk about the past on a counselor’s couch just keeps you in the same place. My unique methodology moves people forward into who they were created to be, who they know is in there but simply don’t know how to get to it.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean here; coaching is something that I’ve done naturally since I was a kid. I’m a natural encourager and an excellent listener, and those two things alone gave me a leg up on understanding people on a level that most people simply miss. I have experience working in corporate, owning my own businesses and even years of staying home and coaching people on the side in nutrition and fitness, but I was such a natural at it and so many people were coming to me for counsel, I finally decided to make a career out of it. I have done certifications from people who were coaches for Tony Robbins for over two decades, and I have to be honest, I spent weeks and quite a bit of money in that course and didn’t get a whole lot out of it as I was already coaching, technically untrained in the industry, successfully and with extraordinary results. Anyone can hop online and get a coaching certification, and I even did that thinking I needed to have that behind my name, but the reality is you’re either successful at it or you’re not, that’s the proof in the pudding. So, at the end of the day, what matters most is that I have the authority because I simply get the results, it’s that simple.
Now to jump back to my experience with my parents, I had no idea until I was older, that all that I observed and experienced was a lack of Emotional Intelligence. It wasn’t until 7 years into my marriage that I started to turn it all inward and started on my own journey of self-discovery of who I was that it caused me to really study human behavior; what drives us, what holds us back, and how that influences the outcome of our life.
If my parents had had Emotional Intelligence, I don’t know that I would have been so inquisitive about it and centered my whole life and career around it. I spent over five years under that doctor that did neurofeedback, Dr. Peterson, and utilized the Neuro Emotional Technique (NET) before I divorced my ex. This really opened my eyes to how emotions work, how they affect people’s decisions and life choices, and how to finally understand them in a way that disables the charge and intensity of them and most importantly, how blind people are to them unless they have the right tools.
This was pivotal in my ability to help other people. Once my eyes were opened to this, I could quickly identify areas in my life where my emotions were driving my car of life, and it also gave me the ability to see it in other people. That’s partly why, when meeting with a client, I can so quickly determine where their holes in their buckets are. It’s a trained art that I’ve utilized and sharpened now for over a decade, so it enables me to see things very quickly with my clients.
You know, I watched all my kids and ex go through this same process as well with Dr. Peterson, and not only going through it myself, but watching them for years gave me such a well-rounded experience to fully understand not just myself but other people as well. The work that he did really gave us a clear understanding and unveiled how we behave and why. I was really able to start connecting the dots on some of my kids’ behaviors and why they were doing it, and most importantly, how we are able to clear it, address it, and move on in a healthy way.
You know that moment you feel stuck or you’re procrastinating, yet you really want the end result to come so you’re frustrated with yourself and can’t understand why you’re not getting on it? The majority of the time in this circumstance, it’s because there’s some underlying limiting belief that has its hooks in our emotions that is holding us back and we don’t even know it. Learning those skills under Dr. Peterson has been life changing in that respect as it gives a way to pull the curtain back and really see inside the secret emotional code that’s within your subconscious.
And here’s the thing, NET is only one of over 20 plus different modalities I use with my clients. While it’s very easy for me to identify, what’s going on with a client, it’s not always as easy for the client to see it, understand it, let alone transform it within themselves. Each client is different and learns best in a different way and they need to be cared for differently in order for them to have the ‘aha’ moment, so over 15 years of coaching people in some capacity or another, through all my research, courses taken and learning, I have been able to develop and add so many different modalities to my tool kit. If one avenue doesn’t work, no problem, I’ve got 19 plus more to choose from and one or more are bound to get through to the client. That’s what’s so unique about what I do, and honestly what I feel like others are lacking in the industry. People think there is only one way, or the more letters you have behind your name means you’re qualified, but the reality is there isn’t enough you can know, and I’m inquisitive by nature so I’m always learning, following the cutting-edge research and utilizing the best tools so I can give the best to my clients.
One thing I want to say, nothing is wrong with people who don’t understand or have Emotional Intelligence. They’re not broken, they just don’t know. And that’s my mission to help people understand their emotions, where they come from, and how to see them in a way that is helpful and not hurtful to themselves and those around them. But so often people think they’re broken, they’ve just lost sight of who they are and need help getting back to who they were created to be.
For the benefit of our readers, can you help to define what Emotional Intelligence is?
Absolutely, it’s having full awareness of your emotions, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and being able to identify them, deal with them, heal past emotions, and communicate them in an effective way that is edifying to those around you.
I also take it a step further than most professionals and truly believe it’s also taking responsibility for your behavior despite what emotions you are feeling at the time. Just because you’re angry doesn’t mean you get to go slug someone. Taking full responsibility and owning when you mess up and lash out over emotional dysregulation is where someone really reveals they have Emotional Intelligence Mastery.
And I want to give this example to really drive this home:
Here’s the thing about emotions, we experience something and then we make meaning about it. Let me explain, there was this time I was 16 years old and I was dating my first boyfriend in high school. He was phenomenal. He was a gentleman, totally respectful, didn’t pressure sex (which we all know the amount of self-control that takes at that age), was a straight-A student, and was playing on the varsity football team as a freshman all while having a fantastic personality!
I brought him over for dinner one night and my mom received him well. My dad walked in, looked him up and down, and walked out to his shop without saying a word. I didn’t understand but we went about our night.
Not to my surprise, I was beaten the next day in the barn by my dad and I remember him screaming at me, “You should only date people you would consider marrying.”
I screamed back, “I would marry him!” But that only landed me more blows.
I remember walking back to the house from the barn deciding that I didn’t deserve a man that would treat me the way my boyfriend did or else surely my dad wouldn’t have done that.
So, at that moment, I made meaning about the event with my dad and it began the downward spiral of dating guys that treated me worse each time until I ended up marrying a man just like my dad.
Now if you asked my dad if that’s the message he intended to send me that night, he would say absolutely not. If I asked him if he thought I deserved a man that treated me like a queen, he would have said absolutely!
What I didn’t know at the time was that my dad was racist and he was upset that I was dating a mulatto man.
But because my brain couldn’t understand the racism piece, I couldn’t see any other rational reason why he would have done that. The only explanation my emotionally driven self could come up with was that I wasn’t deserving and worthy of a good man.
See how the facts of an event are so impacted by emotions? We make meaning based on our emotions and it forever influences how we deal with every decision for the rest of our life.
There are three parts to a story; your version, my version, and the facts. The facts are my dad was angry I was dating a man that was mulatto because he couldn’t reconcile his emotions around different races based on what he was conditioned to believe. Yet I made meaning about it that had nothing to do with the facts and it forever altered the trajectory of my life. And so, there goes everyone’s life story!
We base our emotions on the meaning we give to circumstances around us instead of discerning the facts of what really happened. Emotional Intelligence is knowing the difference between the two. And it takes an incredible amount of self-control to know the difference, but it starts with knowing yourself well enough. To know, in my example, that I was worthy of an awesome man despite what my dad thought would have been Emotional Intelligence. But I was too immature emotionally and too ill-equipped to understand that at the time, and it impacted my life in ways that carried significant weight forever.
I always say, “You can’t give what you don’t have,” but it starts with your own self. When you’re able to have empathy, understanding, and a love for your own self and give yourself permission to experience the emotions you do have, then you can be in tune with other people’s emotions as well. This is where true vulnerability and connection with other people can happen.
We all want to be known, right, but it starts with knowing yourself first. When we know who we are, and learn to love and accept ourselves, then and only then are we able to do that for other people. That in turn gives other people freedom to be who they are also, and there’s no greater gift you can give to other people than full acceptance of who they are, starting with yourself. So that’d be the long definition of what Emotional Intelligence is!
How is Emotional Intelligence different from what we normally refer to as intelligence?
Oh, it’s drastically different! You can be book smart, but just like I explained about my dad, if you don’t have emotional intelligence, you aren’t able to truly connect with yourself, let alone other people. You can be the best financial analyst in the world thanks to all that studying, but if you can’t connect with yourself or others on an emotional level, you’re missing out on truly experiencing life and pure joy. It’s a very unfulfilling life to lead and I saw the effects of that on my dad as he neared his time here. It was painful to see him struggle so much and truly have the desire to connect, but he just didn’t have the skills to.
There are no other creatures on the planet that are as emotional as humans. To deny or be void of Emotional Intelligence means you’re truly living a half-life. You aren’t able to enjoy and engage with your fellow species the way you were created to. I’ve heard it put this way and I love it; book smarts let us know how the world functions but Emotional Intelligence lets us function in the world. Without it, you’re the walking dead!
And that’s partly what sets me apart and why people connect with me so well, not because I’m special, but because they can sense the deep connection that I seek with them. I really know who I am to my core, and as a result of that, I’m able to connect with my clients and draw them into that part of themselves that they’ve buried for years and in some cases even been terrified to get to know. Clients often tell me they can share things with me that they can’t tell anyone else on the planet, and it’s simply because they feel safety and security that can only come from me being so secure in who I am. They know there will be no judgment or backlash when they explain who they truly are because they can sense I don’t give myself judgment or backlash anymore. When we are able to stop judging ourselves and embrace who we are, we are able to do the same for everyone around us.
Can you help explain a few reasons why Emotional Intelligence is such an important characteristic? Can you share a story or give some examples?
Most definitely. Being raised with my parents and their emotional extremes impacted my life drastically. You know, we do what we know, so it’s really important to educate yourself around this so that you don’t continue to repeat the same patterns. Of course, as a result of not resolving this prior to marriage, this cost me significantly in time, confidence, my own emotional health, and it’s been very costly to my kids. It’s required a significant amount of undoing in my house with my boys to teach them what Emotional Intelligence looks like and how to live that out.
The trouble with Emotional Intelligence is, you’d think it’s innate, that everyone just has it, and early on in life that’s true, but it truly has to be retaught to people as adults. If you aren’t taught what it is and why it’s important, most people simply don’t ever get it.
You know, we often trivialize two-year old’s and their erratic behavior, but they are actually some of the most emotionally intelligent creatures on the planet! They’ll be out playing, then fall down and get hurt. They immediately run to their loving parents to get soothed. They cry it out like a boss, then after a few moments of dealing with it, they take off running and laughing again. We often think they’re bipolar or something, but they actually have it figured out. They have an emotion, they deal with it, they heal it, then they go back to being fully present in their play again. There’s a lot to be learned about their behavior.
It’s all the conditioning in the world that ruins it as we get older, like the sayings “Big boys don’t cry,” or “Girls are too dramatic.” This is all telling us that we shouldn’t have emotions, let alone deal with them, and quite frankly it’s a travesty. Humans are one of the most gloriously emotional creatures on the planet, yet we tell everyone to stuff them and they aren’t allowed to feel them, let alone express them.
You have to feel to heal, and you can’t heal from emotional pains if you don’t feel them. Yet as a society we are taught to just stuff them down and ignore them, then they crop up at the worst time or when you least expect it and you’re hurting other people in your life around you by your behavior. That emotion, whether you want to admit it or not, is ruling your life, instead of you ruling it.
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.
Oh, most definitely! I have to be intimate here and draw you into my personal life…it’s helped me significantly with my boys. I always tell my boys they’re more emotionally intelligent than the majority of the adults in the world! And I don’t say that cavalierly, it really is true. They are able to accept responsibility for their actions, apologize when they are in the wrong, and recognize when they’re going off the rails because they haven’t dealt with some emotion. Now I’m not saying we have it all figured out, but we do know how to figure it out at the end of the day, and giving them those skills is priceless. As I’ve watched them grow and interact with their friends and resolve conflicts, it’s clear they have skills and abilities far greater than the average adult.
There was this time we recently had a conflict with a neighbor kid. My oldest had inadvertently said something that was taken by the neighbor the complete opposite way. We had a little pow-wow on the porch with the parent and all the kids involved, and at the end of the conversation my son said, “I’m sorry if what I said caused you to think [your behavior] was what I wanted. That’s on me, and I apologize for not being clear in my communication.” I stood there with my mouth open as I heard these words come out of my 15 years’ old’s mouth. The fact that he was able to recognize the tiny bit of fault that may have been his, own 100% up to it, be responsible for it, and apologize for it all required a significant amount of emotional intelligence. I was beyond proud of him!
It was really encouraging to me to hear him interact throughout this conversation. It affirmed to me that this can be taught. This can be grasped, even by young kids. It is something that the world needs to just learn the skills so that they can better and more fulfilling interactions with those around them.
Can you share some specific examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help a person become more successful in the business world?
Yeah, this is where I totally geek out! People don’t realize how much their Emotional Intelligence, or lack of it, drastically affects every area of their life, including their business!
I’ll give this example of one of my clients who is an owner and operator of a multi-million-dollar company; when he came to me, he was so emotionally spent and spiraling out of control he couldn’t even make major decisions about his company. He was devastated to turn these decisions over to his lead guy, but he knew he wasn’t in the right place to make them correctly. His emotions were completely clouding his judgment.
In fact, I just talked to him a few weeks ago and because of all the work that we had done, he has had the best year in the last 15 years and it’s not even over yet! All while dealing with COVID (which he originally thought would destroy his business). He’s taken back control of his company, but he couldn’t do that until he had done the emotional work on himself. Once he was able to regain emotional regularity, he has made some phenomenal shifts in his business decisions that he didn’t even see before and has just been accepting for years. This has increased his bottom line significantly this year.
Your emotions either run you or you run them. If your emotions are running the show, which is what is happening to most people and they don’t even realize it, you aren’t in the right frame of mind to make the right decisions, to discern the difference of a risk that may catapult or destroy your business, and to retain and have excellent relationships with your employees. That same client said it perfectly when he said, “My whole team is sound now that I’m sound. It starts at the top and it has significantly shifted my entire operation.”
I could even reference back to the example of my business mistake. My judgment was clouded by my lack of emotional regulation when I hired that employee and it cost me. That employee let her lack of emotional intelligence cloud her judgment so much so that she lost a phenomenal job because of it. You can’t tell me that didn’t affect both of our bottom lines!
Oftentimes people don’t see the importance and the direct correlation to the bottom line of their business. It’s kind of like self-care; people don’t think they have time for it or that it’ll actually improve their business performance and that couldn’t be more false. Any investment you put into yourself will carry over into all other areas of your life; personal, spiritual, relational, emotional, and definitely impact the bottom line of your business.
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have better relationships?
Yeah, I would argue that you really don’t have relationships with people if you don’t have Emotional Intelligence. I know that sounds harsh, but hear me out! You can go through the motions and co-exist, but to truly know someone, you have to truly know yourself and you can’t know yourself until you have discovered and allowed yourself to explore all of your own emotions.
People are afraid to do that. All the societal conditioning has taught us that it’s not ok to explore them and then we live in fear of said emotions. When you face that fear, and explore them anyway, a whole new world is waiting for you on the other side! You’re now able to be present with people and seek to understand them, and by accepting yourself in that space, you are freeing them to be who they are as well, cultivating a truly intimate experience you may never have had before.
In relationships, it often ends up that the two people are enemies or competing against each other. When you are emotionally sound and are able to have open communication about those emotions without fear of what the other person might think or do because of what you’re sharing, you’re truly able to be raw and real. When the partner accepts that in a safe way and understands, because of their Emotional Intelligence, that what you’re talking to them about likely has nothing to do with them but the emotional experience of the other person, this is when two people truly are able to connect on a soul level. You both have each other’s back and are able to receive and share your emotions without it meaning anything.
Oftentimes people don’t even realize that their behavior is a direct reflection of what they’re feeling inside and they simply don’t know how to discover or handle it. Someone may snap at their partner because they left the socks out. But really what’s driving the partner to snap is that they’re not feeling heard or respected. But instead of being able to just say that to their partner because they likely don’t even recognize why they are getting so angry over the socks being left out, they engage in a squabble over the socks instead. When you’re able to be in tune with your own emotions, you’re able to say exactly what’s going on to your partner instead of engaging in that squabble, giving you the opportunity to express your needs and be heard and for your partner to love you where you are at. And when the other partner is in tune themselves, they don’t take offense to it. They are able to listen to understand and have a desire to serve their partner lovingly in that area.
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have more optimal mental health?
Do you know that little voice in your head, that one that wakes you up at 2 a.m.? It never tells you what a great job you did in that board meeting that day, right? It tells you all the things you did wrong, how you weren’t enough that day, and reminds you of all you have to do tomorrow to make up for it. The amount of energy that is spent on all those negative thoughts completely drains people, totally handicapping their potential.
Depending on which study you look at, 70%-80% of our thoughts are negative, and 95% of those are on repeat each day. This means our mental capacity is spent on negativity and then we repeat that each and every day. Yuck! That’s a lot of wasted energy!
Imagine how productive you’d be and how clear you’d be in your thought processes if you were able to pour that energy into creativity, problem-solving, and solutions in your life. At worst, you’d be 70% healthier mentally and MUCH more productive!
I would even take this a step farther beyond our mental health as well. All these negative thoughts have an impact on our physical health. There are numerous studies linking most diseases and ailments with these trapped negative emotions. I think it’s pretty clear how much our performance in every area of life is affected when we aren’t addressing our emotional needs.
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.
1. Tell that voice in your head, the 2 a.m. voice, to literally shut up: When it starts to come after you and berate you, telling you lies about yourself, start to be aware of it and literally tell it to shut up. This is called a “pattern interrupt.” You need to break this habit and take your power back from these negative thoughts.
2. Start a gratitude/win’s journal: I have all of my clients do this and in fact, I still do this myself to this day. Each morning you wake up, write down at least three things you’re grateful for, but you have to really feel that gratitude, it’s not enough to just write it down, you have to get into that state of gratefulness. This sets the stage for your day. At the end of the day, write down three wins you had that day. They can be tiny or big, it doesn’t matter. For example, you got up on the first alarm even when you didn’t want to. But this is one way to start reprogramming your brain away from the negatives and into the positive. Where focus goes, energy flows, so the more you focus on the positive, the more it will expand in your life.
3. Learn to listen, and I mean truly listen, to people: Stop thinking of what you’re going to say next and start just truly listening to the people in your life. Put your phone down. Look them in the face. Engage in eye contact. Listen to understand them, with no agenda or thoughts of what you should say next. Just be present and hear them and be there for what they need. You’d be amazed at what you’ve been missing out on and what you can learn from this simple shift!
4. Become aware of your own emotions: I know it sounds trivial, but really start to tune into yourself and pay attention. We’re so ‘busy’ we often don’t even check in with ourselves. If you are yelling at your kid for something trivial, take a step back, recognize it, and sit with yourself. Give effort to learning about yourself and what you’re angry about, address it, feel to heal, then move on in love and grace.
5. Give yourself permission to be you, and forgive yourself: We are inundated with so much social, parental, school, religious, and societal conditioning that we lose sight of who we are (and it happens so young), we no longer even know who we are anymore. The first step in getting to know yourself is to allow yourself to feel again. Feel the emotions you’ve stuffed away. It’ll be hard and painful at first, but you have to feel to heal, so the sooner you allow yourself space to feel them, the sooner you’re on the path of discovering yourself again. And when you catch yourself going off the rails, for the love of God, forgive yourself! You’re human, you can’t be perfect, and that’s ok!
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?
Oh wow, I totally do! It’s something that’s not even discussed in traditional schools and quite frankly, the conditioning that schools cultivate only perpetuates the problem. Kids are forced to sit down to learn and are labeled ADD if they learn better while moving around. They’re taught to color inside the lines when maybe that’s the very thing that squelches a creative spirit. Every one of these incidents creates another barrier between their unique self and what the world is telling them to be. If kids were able to express who they are, instead of suppressing it, they would remain in tune with their emotions, let it guide them, and flourish by being exactly who they were created to be.
I would love to see an emotional outlet class required for students. This would be a safe place where they could get their emotions out. I often tell my kids to go throw eggs at the fence or take some rounds out on the boxing bag or scream into a pillow when they’re angry. Or (I’m going socially taboo here), a place to let that kid actually cry when they’re sad and not be judged or condemned for it.
We’re taught to suppress all those emotions instead of embracing them because emotions make people uncomfortable. But by stuffing them, we’re just setting these kids up to just puke out on everyone around them when we least expect it and the people around us suffer the consequences. Like when you snap at your kids for no reason or have road rage against a guy who cuts you off. That’s all suppressed emotions screaming for attention. It’s ok to be angry! It’s ok to be sad! It’s healthy to get that energy out, then you can move on in a healthy way without harming people around us with words or outbursts of anger. So, a safe place for kids to experience something like that would be life-changing for them.
And of course, I’d love to see classes where kids are taught about their emotions and given tools with how to feel them, deal with them and show them the incredible potential they have once they tap into them. That would set them free and give them permission to be and feel exactly how they’re created to feel. When they have the tools to deal with them, it doesn’t become a scary thing and an unruly experience, if you will, for them to express them.
Relational communications are another area that I’d love to see kids being taught, especially in this day and age when technology has overridden human interaction. People don’t know how to communicate their thoughts or feelings, mainly because of all the conditioning we’ve already talked about, but also because they don’t understand their own emotions. Think back to the sock example, right? If kids were taught how to communicate, and that conflict doesn’t have to be ugly or a bad thing, they would be equipped to handle relationships, their jobs, employees, etc. on a whole new level.
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.
Oh, my goodness, I love this question! Yes, I’m really passionate about people getting back to their authentic selves. I’ve talked a bit about it today already, but we live under so much conditioning and people wake up one day and realize they have no idea who the heck they are. I call this the conditional gap where people can’t even see who they are anymore because of all the conditioning that stands between their true self and what they perceive as the world’s standards. And it’s really more of a barrier than a gap. Their true self is so out of reach they can’t even see it anymore.
Everyone is uniquely and divinely created exactly how they should be. No two snowflakes are the same. No two DNA codes are the same, even with identical twins. No two thumbprints are the same. Yet we live in a world where we want everyone to conform to the world’s standards. What would our world be like if each and every person gave themselves permission to be who they were created to be and to live fully in that space and to be on their divine purpose? I trust everyone would be happier, feel more alive, be full of joy on a level they haven’t experienced since they were a kid.
So that’s my movement, getting people to their authentic self of who they were created to be. This gets people to their final destination, Destination Unstoppable You™, where they are fully alive and tapped into life and living on purpose and ultimately unstoppable!
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 🙂
Ed Mylette! He has been highly influential to me over my career and personal life. He has some of the most respected thought leaders in the world on his show and I would be honored to brainstorm life, mind hacking, and authenticity with him!
What I love about Ed is that he really exudes Emotional Intelligence himself. When he interviews someone, he truly desires to get to know them deep to their core, and I believe that is because Ed really is grounded in who he is. He’s done the hard-emotional work to get to the place where he isn’t afraid of who he is or the emotions he has. He is physically fit well beyond the average guy at the gym and if you just look at appearances, he exudes masculinity on all levels. Yet he has no shame entering into an emotional space with people and crying right alongside them. It’s pretty rare to see that in a man and highly impressive.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can go to www.thebrendalee.com where you can find links to all my social media accounts and follow me!
Thank you for these