There’s a famous anecdote about Albert Einstein once showing up to university, having completely forgotten to put on pants that day. It’s written off as a classic example of how notoriously aloof he was, an aloofness that is credited for having destroyed both of his marriages and estranged him from his children.

Nikola Tesla is considered one the greatest inventors of the late 19th century. Yet when he was around females, he found himself nervous and shy, so much so that he grew to resent them and wound up dying without ever having been with a woman.

Kanye West (or Ye as he’s now legally called) has been called the “greatest musical genius of this generation”, a “brilliant polymath” and “one of the smartest minds in the industry” (although most of these accolades are from Ye himself). Despite his immodesty, it is hard to deny that Mr. West has achieved immense success due to his uncanny talent.  Yet one thing that Mr. West has not been called is “emotionally stable”.

Listen to “How Does Tina Really Feel About Emotional Intelligence Part 1” on Spreaker.

None of these three aforementioned men – while all geniuses in their respective fields – could be considered intelligent when it comes to dealing with their emotions. Unlike mathematical formulas or catchy beats, emotions are not such a concrete concept to pin down. We cannot test for emotional intelligence as simply as we do for IQ, and the emotional intelligence tests that do exist are difficult to access and validate.

Even the very definition of emotional intelligence is not so easily agreed upon. Tina Shweiger recently discussed some of the more vexing issues of roping in a concept such as Emotional Intelligence. The term itself, she says, is somewhat of a misnomer. The word “intelligence” implies that it is something we are born with, some people are simply more intelligent than others. Yet our emotional intelligence is more like a skill set that we can work on and develop. Through active practice, we can hone our abilities to be more adept at recognizing our emotions, and controlling how we express them. It’s a common misconception that emotions just happen to us, and sometimes they’re good or sometimes they’re bad. Rather, we can choose and control our emotions, just as we can choose how to express them.

Having this control of our behaviors and the way we react to our feelings is essential in the workplace, especially for leaders. Being in tune not only with how we feel, but also how those around us are feeling, needs amazing social awareness and relationship management. It requires a leader who is completely open and willing to allow themselves to be vulnerable. A workplace where employees feel safe to freely express themselves without judgment or cultural bias will create a much more  productive company. As more and more businesses are beginning to invest in emotionally intelligent leadership, programs such as MindfulAppy can help a company gauge and assess their workforce’s emotional wellbeing, allowing leadership to better meet their coworkers’ needs.

Listen to “How Does Tina REALLY Feel About Emotional Intelligence? Part 2” on Spreaker.

The desire for stronger emotional intelligence is growing, and more and more people are starting to realize that this type of intelligence is, as Tina puts it, “fundamental and foundational skill to develop for the human experience to thrive”. Perhaps someday we might value Emotional Intelligence as highly as we regard classical intelligence, we might even revere emotionally intelligent ‘geniuses’ as we do the geniuses who discovered the Theory of Relativity or wrote “Gold Digger”. But until then, we can be aware of the need for a more mindful approach to life, and take the steps necessary to better ourselves.

By Ky Benkoi,

Writer for Mindful Appy

Ky Benko is an Elementary School teacher/librarian currently residing in the Netherlands where he enjoys riding bikes and eating cheese

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