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  April 20, 2012
Grow Up and Act Your Age...


"How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?" - Satchel Paige

I remember quite vividly opening the door to the refrigerator one hot summer day.  From the top shelf, I picked up a full pitcher of iced tea hoping to pour myself a cold drink when all of a sudden I felt the pitcher slip from my grasp.

The plastic pitcher and all its contents came down with a resounding crash on the floor with iced-tea splashing everywhere. 

I assessed the situation, grabbed a kitchen towel, got down on my hands and knees, and began the task of mopping up the brown mess before me. As I was on the floor, I happened to look up.  There was my daughter Sarah looking over me. 

Her hands were on her hips as she bellowed out, "What the HECK is going on in here!!?"

"Mommy is going to be very angry with you for spilling the iced-tea...and now you’re soaking it up with her good dish towel...daddy, you know that iced-tea stains towels!!"

Sarah stared at me with that look of disapproval that most experienced parents give their kids after they discover that they have done something boneheaded.  The look that says "you are a moron but I still love you because you’re my child". 

I looked down at the towel and then back up at my daughter.  She was right of course.  Iced-tea does stain.

"Well I’ll just buy her a new towel then and she’ll never know", I said, thinking quickly and speaking confidently.

She shook her head in disapproval...and ran off to tell her mother everything...

Insult to injury...now I was totally busted.

A few seconds later she came back into the kitchen and grabbed a sponge and started helping me to mop up the spill.  For her, helping dad clean-up the mess was far more important than tattling.

I thought to myself.  "Who’s the parent and who’s the kid here?"

Did I mention that my daughter was four years old?

Now jump forward 20 years.  I’m having lunch with Tom, an old acquaintance and fellow entrepreneur.  The conversation concerned an employee who recently left his employ.

"Rachel is no longer with me...she’s working at Steve’s company now...or should I say she was...I called Steve to let him know that he should really rethink hiring Rachel.  I basically told him that she was a bad worker and totally unreliable.  Steve thanked me for the information and told me that he appreciated my help".

I looked puzzled.

"Didn’t you always say that Rachel was a great worker?...she did everything for you", I inquired.

"Well she was...I trusted her with running my entire office...and then she quit to go work for someone like Steve...she left me now without an office manager...so now I want to get her back..."

I looked at him incredulously. 

"Seriously?...how old are you Tom?"   

The typical method to determining a person’s age is to measure the days, months and years since that person’s birth.  This method measures a person’s chronological age.

The longer a person has inhabited a place on earth, the more life experience one hopes to have.  Time allows a person to learn, try new things, fail, adjust, think, remember, create, and grow.

Another way to determine a person age is by the way that they behave.  Sometimes this is called the Emotional Intelligence (EI).  Although the terminology and exact models may vary between psychological schools of thought, the premise of EI remains a constant.

EI is the ability of an individual to perform the following assessments:

1.  Self-Awareness - the ability to recognize different emotions in one’s self.

2.  Self-Management - The ability to control one’s emotions.

3.  Social Awareness - The ability to recognize emotions of others.

4.  Social Management - The ability to manage the emotions of others.

These categories can be summarized into two distinct categories: 

Recognizing emotions in yourself and others and managing emotions in yourself and others.

A people who score high on EI tests tend to understand why they and others feel and act the way they do.  They understand the law of "cause and effect" both on themselves and others. 

They are able to control and regulate impulse behavior by considering consequences of the actions prior to starting an action. 

They are also keen at recognizing the emotions of others.  They are good at sensing anger, grief, confidence, frustration, sadness, elation, or fear in others which allows them to provide support, sensitivity, empathy and/or comfort to other people.

In contrast, people who score low on EI tests tend to be selfish, uncaring, maniacal, self-centered, malicious, petty, spiteful and jealous of others.

Young children generally do not possess the capacity to think beyond the current moment.  They want something and they want it now.  They will cry and scream until they get it. 

They are incapable of understanding how their actions create future consequences.  They believe that they are the most important person in the room and the world revolves around them.

As we get older, we begin to understand that other people actually exist (other than to serve us) and that they have feelings and needs. 

If a person’s EI levels are high, they develop a strong set of ethics, self-awareness and high moral character.  They can use emotional awareness to motivate, influence, and inspire others.  It also helps us to manage conflict and empathy by allowing us to see a situation from the perspective of others.

Adults with a low EI tend to be petty, self-absorbed, selfish, highly competitive, and narcissistic.  They have a hard time seeing issues from the point of view of others and are petty, hold grudges and are vindictive.  They are lead by fear and coercion (win-lose) rather than through strong communication and mutual satisfaction (win-win).  They believe that the world is out to get them and that it’s good to take more than one gives.

Although much of our EI is innate or learned at a very young age, we can still re-learn what we know to become a better person.  Truly successful people typically score high on the EI scale knowing that it typically takes the help of others to allow us to achieve at the highest levels.

Simply put...growing old doesn’t make us wise...acting our appropriate age does.

OptiFuse and I thank you very much for your support as we try and act with wisdom each day to provide solutions to your problems.

Jim Kalb

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