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  • Writer's pictureLaurent Notin

Why EQ Matter For Entrepreneurs

I’m sure you’ve heard that being an entrepreneur is to be on a constant rollercoaster of emotions. You can go from very excited to very anxious in a matter of hours sometimes.

Entrepreneurship can drain you emotionally. It is understandable: I mean, making the right choice with money on the line or choosing to fire somebody is a difficult decision.

The situations business owners must deal with have a direct impact on their mood. And before they know it, emotions have submerged them.

Emotions trump your clarity, and blur your judgment.

Emotions create stories in your heads and entrap you.

Emotions make you react too fast and take the wrong decisions.

Hence the importance of developing your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) skills.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) covers 5 main domains. I will go through each one of them.

1. Know Your Own Emotions

EQ starts with self-awareness: Knowing your own emotions. It's about recognizing a feeling as it happens.

You need to develop your ability to monitor your feelings from moment to moment. When you can’t notice your emotions, you are left at their mercy, they control you. On the contrary, when you can, you become a better pilot of your life, because you will develop a surer sense of how you really feel about the situations you are facing, and therefore, you will be in a better place to decide.

Over the years, I have become better at recognizing my emotions through introspection. It is the ability to look inwards to learn about something within yourself, examine it, and find ways to grow as a result of that process.

There are different methods to practice introspection: I used journaling for many years; I’m now trying meditation.

Whatever tool you use, it’s a personal journey and it requires time to develop such self-awareness. But it’s worth it.

2. Managing Emotions

In other words, once you know which emotion is at play, you need to handle it so it remains appropriate (for instance shaking off anxiety).

I can share with you the technique that I use with my clients to do so. First, you need to understand that your brain and your body are connected. Emotions will always trigger a physical reaction. So, If you are able to identify which physical reaction goes with which emotion, then you’ll be able to do something about it. Perhaps even stop it before it starts.

Let me give you an example – When my imposter syndrome shows up I am feeling sad, incompetent, and vulnerable. With time. I have come to realize that when the imposter syndrome plays with me, I will tend to curl up on myself, into a fetus position.

Once I became aware of it, I had to find a way to regain control. So nowadays, as soon as I detect the first physical signs, I will immediately straighten up. That simple movement puts me back in control. I know I’m having an imposter syndrome attack, but I decide to not let it consume me. I manage it.

Managing your emotions will help you relax, brush off anxiety, gloom, or irritability, and very important for entrepreneurs, it will help you deal with the consequences of failure. If you are poor in this ability, you will constantly battle feelings of distress. If you’re good at it, you will be able to bounce back faster from setbacks.

3. Motivating Yourself

Emotional self-control is about delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness. It is also about motivating yourself or getting into a state of flow.

When you can do that on a regular basis, you will be more productive and effective in whatever you undertake. You will enjoy outstanding performance.

I find there are 4 things that help me get into the right flow:

  • Thinking about how I will feel once I will have completed my work, especially those tasks that I don’t want to do because I find them boring

  • Establishing routines and sticking to them (starting with my morning routine, early wake-up, breakfast, and going to the gym because it puts me on the right track for the rest of the day)

  • Setting up deadlines, to keep that little pressure on my shoulders because I hate being late

  • Publicly announcing the things I need to do (on social media, to my friends or family) because it commits me. Now that the world knows about it, I don’t have the choice but to deliver.

Now the question is how to maintain constant levels of motivation?

In my experience, I don’t think it is possible. There will be times when you can’t motivate yourself, whatever you try, and that is fine. You also need me time to recover both mentally and physically, it’s part of the process.

4. Recognizing Emotions In Others

Great leaders, and entrepreneurs are leaders by default, have 1 skill in common: empathy. It is the fundamental people skill that builds on emotional self-awareness.

It is the ability to recognize emotions in others. People who are empathic are more inclined to the social signals that indicate what others need or want.

Empathy will make you a better leader. And what is a leader if not someone who puts the needs of others ahead of their own? Like Simon Senek says leadership is not about being “in charge”, it’s about taking care of those in your charge. This, therefore, puts empathy as the number one skill necessary to excel at leadership.

How good of a leader are you then? In his book From Good To Great, Why some companies make the leap and others don’t, Jim Collins provides 5 key characteristics of what he calls Level 5 Leaders:

  • They are ambitious for the company, not for themselves

  • They set up their staff for success

  • They are humble

  • They are fanatically driven by results

  • And they attribute success to factors other than themselves, and take the blame when things go wrong

Do an honest assessment of yourself. And that should give you an idea of where you stand as a leader. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I can make you a better leader through coaching.

5. Handling Relationships

The art of relationships is in large part to be able to manage emotions in others.

Handling relationships is an art and it requires to excel in two particular emotional skills: self-management and empathy, which we have already covered.

A deficit in both skills leads to ineptness in the social world. It can cause you to come off arrogant, obnoxious, or insensitive, which aren’t the traits you want others to perceive if you wish to develop great relationships.

When you are able to develop social skills, you will be able to inspire others, thrive in intimate relationships, persuade, influence, and put others at ease. And that is part of your job as an entrepreneur.


This article is an extract from my special podcast series The Entrepreneur Alphabet. Listen to the episodes on your favorite podcast channel or watch them on YouTube.

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