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Peyton Leonard of TopQuoteLifeInsurance.com: “Practice empathy”

Practice empathy. Example: If someone does something over and over again that really bothers you, practice putting yourself in their shoes. Maybe they’re having a hard time and need help. Practice humility. Example: Someone gives you negative feedback and you feel the urge to refute it. Swallow your pride and thank them for their feedback. Ask […]

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Practice empathy. Example: If someone does something over and over again that really bothers you, practice putting yourself in their shoes. Maybe they’re having a hard time and need help.

Practice humility. Example: Someone gives you negative feedback and you feel the urge to refute it. Swallow your pride and thank them for their feedback. Ask how you can improve.


As a part of our series about “Emotional Intelligence, I had the pleasure of interviewing Peyton Leonard.

Peyton Leonard is an insurance and finance writer living in Colorado Springs, CO. She is currently obtaining her Bachelor’s in English at Thomas Edison State University. Peyton is the author of “Lyme & Not the Fruit.”


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?

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I’m really grateful. Okay, so a little bit about my childhood backstory. I was born in New Jersey but grew up in Maryland in a town called Olney. I lived with my parents and my older brother. I was a pretty happy child.

In the early 2000s, Olney was a quaint suburb with some rural spots mixed in between. I always loved playing video games and playing make-believe with my friends. I was big into Pokémon and loved anything with mutants or gargoyles. I was a mixture of a tomboy and a nerd.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I would say my parents — as cliché as that sounds — were who inspired me to pursue my career. They were both pretty business savvy and entrepreneurs. They balanced each other out well. Dad was very intellectual while mom had a ton of street smarts.

Dad has his own business as a project manager and project portfolio management consultant. Mom had her own jewelry business and worked as an insurance agent for a while. They’re both very creative and innovative people.

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?

It’s hard to choose just one person, but if I had to, I would choose my dad. He was always teaching my brother and me about business and how to grow professionally and personally.

I remember him teaching us about how to make goals and go after them. He was a goal setter and a go-getter for sure. He started his career in IT from nothing. He had gotten his Bachelor’s and Master’s in music. To provide for us, he pursued a more profitable career in IT and project management. He truly started from the ground up. Watching him grow in success and prowess was truly inspirational.

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?

I would say the most interesting mistake that occurred in the course of my career was trying to do everything at once and then falling flat on my face. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person, so I went full throttle into the different aspects of my career and burned out rather quickly.

I learned from that mistake that less is best sometimes, especially if it means keeping your sanity and staying healthy.

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?

If I could leave a young person with anything, I would say that success doesn’t happen overnight — at least for most people. There are exceptions to the rule, but the majority of us have to work hard and persevere through a lot of difficulties and hardships. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Another thing I would say is be humble and teachable. It’s helped me so much to just learn from those that have gone before me. Learn from other’s mistakes and implement what worked for them.

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?

I would say James Clear’s book, “Atomic Habits” really impacted me. He talks about how our identities shape our habits. It’s a really powerful read. It made me question how I view myself, others, and the world around me. It also was really practical and easy to digest. I recommend it to anyone looking to develop more effective habits.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.”

–Lao Tzu

This quote really resonates with me because it reminds me that it all starts with me. I can’t do anything to help anyone else until I work on myself. True power comes from mastering the self. Wow. That’s powerful.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I think one of the most exciting things I’m doing right now for my business is working on a memoir called “Treble(d) Mind.” It’s my journey with mental illness and how music has helped me along the way. My hope is that it helps others not to be ashamed of their mental health issues.

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?

I’ve had to learn to master my emotions, deal with conflict, and improve my interpersonal skills over time. I am not perfect by any means, but I can confidently say that my experience with these three aspects of Emotional Intelligence makes me an authority on the subject.

For the benefit of our readers, can you help to define what Emotional Intelligence is?

Emotional intelligence has to do with empathy and one’s ability to handle emotions in interpersonal relationships.

How is Emotional Intelligence different from what we normally refer to as intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence differs from regular intelligence because it has more to do with emotions and relationships than it has to do with knowledge.

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 it is so important to know your emotional quotient or EQ and work on developing better interpersonal skills because we are a communal species. We thrive on relationships. We are not islands. We need each other. The better we’re able to deal with conflict and demonstrate empathy to one another, the better off we’ll be in the long run.

In a business setting, it’s so important to be able to handle conflict with coworkers or your supervisors in a healthy way. Your livelihood and reputation depend on 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.

2014 was the first time I was diagnosed with a mental illness. From then on, I’ve been diagnosed with four other disorders. I’ve had and am still learning how to improve my EQ. Suffering from mental illnesses has taught me to have empathy for others that suffer as well. It’s also taught me to have grace and empathy with myself. It’s not easy, but I’m learning some really important interpersonal skills that are helping me relate to others in healthy ways.

Can you share some specific examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help a person become more successful in the business world?

Emotional Intelligence at work is so crucial for success. If you’re having conflict with a coworker, Emotional Intelligence can help you resolve the issue(s) with maturity and humility. If a project is causing you stress, using Emotional Intelligence can help you master your emotions without your emotions mastering you and help you effectively finish the project.

Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have better relationships?

Let’s say you’re in a romantic relationship and you have an argument with your significant other. Having a high EQ will help you to reconcile with your significant other in a way that brings you closer together and not further apart.

The same goes for having a platonic relationship. Emotional Intelligence gives you the opportunity to have deeper intimacy with your friend. You’re able to empathize with what they’re going through or have gone through.

Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have more optimal mental health?

As someone that has mental health issues, Emotional Intelligence gives me peace and self-control. I am not mastered by my emotions when I am triggered by something or someone. I have learned to articulate my needs and feelings in appropriate, healthy ways.

Instead of lashing out when a family member pushes my buttons, I am able to talk to them and resolve the conflict before acting on that impulse.

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 — Practice empathy. Example: If someone does something over and over again that really bothers you, practice putting yourself in their shoes. Maybe they’re having a hard time and need help.

#2 — Practice humility. Example: Someone gives you negative feedback and you feel the urge to refute it. Swallow your pride and thank them for their feedback. Ask how you can improve.

#3 — Journal your feelings. Example: I make it a habit to journal when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It helps me figure out what I’m feeling more accurately than talking it out.

#4 — Pause before you react. Example: You get chewed out by someone for doing something really minor. Take a deep breath and think through your next move. Don’t just react and cause conflagration between you and that person.

#5 — Ask questions when trying to resolve conflict. Example: Say your husband or wife is upset about something you did. Ask questions to see how they felt about your actions and how you can make things better.

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?

I believe the educational system can always do better at cultivating Emotional Intelligence. I would recommend giving students the room to voice their frustrations and upsets in a noncondemning and safe environment. I also recommend that teachers are given training on Emotional Intelligence and how to help their students resolve conflicts between them and other students.

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.

I would inspire others towards love and generosity. I think it’s so easy for people to have a scarcity mindset and fight for self-preservation. My movement would inspire others to be sacrificial, loving, and generous with their time, energy, and finances. I believe that the world would be a better place if people decided to be more giving and loving towards one another.

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 love to have a private breakfast or lunch with James Clear. His book “Atomic Habits” was so amazing. I would love to just hear him speak more about identity and developing effective habits.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I am a mental health and healthcare expert with TopQuoteLifeInsurance.com so you can definitely find me there.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you again for having me. I really appreciate it.

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