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In order to lead, one must first look within.

Good leaders can be defined by their emotional intelligence, which according to Psychology Today, requires an individual to manage both their own emotions and the emotions of his or her team. It might sound easy, but it’s not.

A December 2014 report in Forbes magazine explains that emotional intelligence is the act of understanding and responding to one’s own emotions and dealing with and overcoming stress, while knowing that their words and actions at a critical moment will directly impact the overall composure of the team.

Essentially, there are four key components of emotional intelligence: Self-assessment, self-management, empathy and/or social awareness and relationship management.

Self-awareness might seem like an intangible quality, but it’s actually a cornerstone of success, according to Mark Connelly, a counseling psychologist and certified life coach based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Throughout these past four months, I’ve experienced such a gratifying feeling due to the evolving nature of my writing craft, and my overall outlook on life.

For so long, I’ve had writer’s block. The only writing I did for a long while was writing about my day to day routine in my journal. Although I’ve done some writing for various other writing sites, for a long while, I had stopped submitting work, because my well of ideas for stories, poetry, etc…had run dry.

Then, back in October of last year, I got involved with a site that dealt with writing prompts to get the well of inspiration filled again. The writing prompts were done through the use of photographs, or a phrase. Through utilizing the tools allotted from the site, my memory was refreshed on how to properly write Haiku and Limerick poetry with the writing tips they provided. From October of 2014 through January 2015, I created a large body of work.

Correcting someone is one of the most difficult and uncomfortable actions you can take. There is always anxiety that the person you’re correcting will feel beat up or over react. There is a way to correct someone, see improved behavior, and even win their respect.

There are several reasons why people are uncomfortable with or even avoid correction. The notion of correction being a negative experience probably comes from negative experience as a kid with our parents or maybe a boss at one of our first jobs. Wherever it comes from, you have probably experienced more bad corrections than good ones.

Another reason simply comes from the current culture that does not advocate for confrontation. Instead, you and I are told to “just go with the flow” and let people do what they’re going to do. While you should not be in everyone’s face about every issue you have about their behavior, you should be able to speak into the lives of the people around you — especially if their words or behavior are inappropriate or they’re under-performing.

When was the last time you sat down and gave yourself an honest, in-depth self-evaluation? And if you go off to a great conference (like Catalyst), do you take time to intentionally cull through your notes and experiences and pull out action points? Do you come up with short-term and long-term practical applications? Do you convert your new-found knowledge into powerful life-change?

Benjamin Franklin famously said that “Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” The same could be said about intentional self-evaluation – especially after a great conference, project or event!

If you don’t evaluate, you’re leaving the harvest out in the field.
You’re leaving money on the table.
You’re forgetting to flush the toilet! (Geez, don’t do that!)

Self-evaluation brings out the best in us, maximizes our rewards for showing up, and cuts out the baggage and garbage that we hauling around.

Have you ever looked at a guy like Richard Branson and thought, “How does the guy get it all done?” 400+ companies, World Records, and billions of dollars under management in a single lifetime. Oh, and I forgot something, space exploration. The guy is on another level.

We are entrepreneurs, leaders, and mold-breakers. Although, of the mortal kind. We need every advantage we can get. So, we should probably pay attention when Titans of business and leadership talk about the things that give them their edge.

Here are 3 areas where your (lack of) exercise could be hindering your leadership.

1. Productivity