August 9, 2023

Rector’s eNews – 9 August 2023

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I strongly believe that emotional intelligence (EQ) is the principal attribute which is better developed in pupils in an all boarding school such as Michaelhouse than in any other environment. One learns this quality often by osmosis through constant daily interaction with others of the same and different character, from those who come from all walks of life. One learns to process attitudes and to understand emotions, to distinguish between the ways people operate, one takes account of the nuance of their approach to life and one learns to identify the difference between those characteristics which have merit and those which don’t. In short, I believe Michaelhouse boys “read” situations involving others well and generally know how to act or to respond depending on the context. This becomes ingrained in them for life and it is a result of the close contact they have with others day by day, minute by minute.

Plato said that “All learning has an emotional base” and perhaps he was right. Many centuries later the American, Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and journalist, reflected that “as much as 80% of adult ‘success’ comes from EQ”. His view was that the ability to identify, assess and control the emotions of oneself, of others and of groups forms the basis for emotional intelligence. It seems to me that the effectiveness of one’s EQ relies on the ability to sense and understand the unspoken, through the mannerisms, style and approach to life of others and to form a view of the reliability of this approach in a set of circumstances. In any event, it is generally recognised now that EQ is an important quality which impacts upon success and well-being.

An interesting discussion with a parent some three weeks ago led to my understanding that there are other characteristics which are also important in determining success. Apart from IQ, which is well known to relate to intelligence in a number of varying situations, I have been alerted to the existence of social quotient (SQ) and adversity quotient (AQ). I believe that AQ can be defined as a measure of one’s resilience and adaptability. The term was coined by the author Paul Stoltz in 1997 in his book Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities. A person’s adversity quotient is a combination of mental and emotional intelligence and toughness and the ability to endure the many challenges of life which are sure to come. The person with high AQ refuses to compromise on personal and professional excellence no matter how difficult the obstacles are. Adversity quotient is a valuable tool for building resilience as it helps to develop the skills and mindset which is needed to conquer challenges and to bounce back from setbacks. Increasing our AQ makes you a person more adaptable, persistent, self -aware and better equipped to handle whatever obstacles which come up in front of us.

Social quotient (SQ) refers to one’s ability to interact and communicate with others with empathy and assertiveness. This includes a person’s ability to build a network of friends and maintain the network over a long period of time.

I am very grateful to those who sometimes comment on issues that I raise and I had not heard of Paul Stoltz or either AQ or SQ before a few weeks ago, but it appears to me as if the combination of IQ, EQ, SQ and AQ is what we should all be striving for in our lives and instilling, wherever possible, in our young people whether we do so formally or informally.

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