May 15, 2023
Many mistakes are made, and opportunities squandered because we are simply not curious enough and too quick to judge.
Many people today, including me, are fans of the show Ted Lasso, the Apple TV series about an American football coach hired to coach a Premier League soccer team.
While the plot itself is entertaining, it is the subplot that makes the show the fan favorite that it is, the shaping of a team from a group of self-focused individual performers.
While there is plenty of material for several articles on leadership, teamwork, and emotional intelligence, this article will focus on only one scene and what we can learn from it about ourselves and emotional intelligence.
In the scene that is our focus, Ted is playing darts with a bully, the former owner of the team he now coaches, and he relates the current circumstances to some from his childhood, circumstances in which he was bullied as a child growing up.
Ted relates that he always wondered why people bullied others, but it was the discovery of a quote on a wall that helped clarify why: “Be curious, not judgmental.”
The show’s main character relates that bullies don’t spend enough time being curious, instead, they are quick to judgement and act accordingly.
What exactly is curiosity and how is it affected by emotional intelligence?
Curiosity is defined as a “strong desire to know or learn something” and it can be applied to learning something new about a product or a process as well as to learning something new about a person or a group of people.
It is about exploration and discovery; about “what could be” and it is driven by the emotional intelligence competencies of optimism, consequential thinking and navigating emotions.
What is judgment?
Judgment is defined as the “cognitive process of reaching a decision or drawing conclusions.” In and of itself, judgment is not a bad thing.
We all make decisions, and reach a judgment, every day.
It is only when judgment is hasty, as in the Ted Lasso scene, or when judgment is purely cognitive, and lacks the insight that comes from emotions that there can be a problem.
Usually, the hasty decision is one that is driven by fear, an emotion, but we don’t take the time to recognize that emotion may be at work.
Change is everywhere today. In many ways, it has become a way of life and is no longer unexpected, but we still tend to fear it, which is natural.
Our brains are designed to do only one thing, keep us alive, which means they love certainty.
Change represents uncertainty, the unknown.
And when our brains detect uncertainty, the decision-making part of our brain shuts down and we move to the safest place the brain knows, judgment and maintaining the status quo.
But with so much change in our midst, how do we evaluate, how do we “judge” whether a change is good or bad; how do we evaluate, judge, if we should decide on one option or the other?
We must be curious.
We must explore the options with optimism and consequential thinking, with purpose and mission as our guide.
And when uncertainty makes us uncomfortable, we need to be prepared to navigate those emotions.
Be curious and ask yourself, “Why does this make me uncomfortable? Is it fear or is it something else? Is my fear justified? How likely are the consequences that I’m fearful of?”
Emotional intelligence is simply using both our cognitive abilities and our emotions to make better decisions, to come to better judgments.
It is when we ignore the emotional side of this equation that we become “judgmental” and lose our ability to be curious.
When you have a major decision before you, be curious.
Explore both the cognitive thoughts and the emotions associated with both sides of the decision to explore what may be the best option to take.
Don’t let fear and a rush to judgment lead you to miss what may be a great opportunity.
Vice President, Emotional Intelligence Specialist, Bond Manager