Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Don’t Waste Time on Things They Can’t Control

One of the questions I often ask leaders:

What are you tempted to spend time on– that you cannot control?

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in an 8×10 cell. He could have spent days, weeks, months, and years rotting away emotionally on things he could not control. Instead, he would discuss with fellow prisoners for a few minutes each day in an open rock yard how they could end apartheid, injustice, and hate.

Emotionally intelligent leaders don’t waste their energy in traffic jams, long lines, flight delays, messed-up online purchases, angry people, etc. They recognize that all these factors are a part of life and beyond their control. Instead, they focus on what they can control:

  • their attitude
  • the use of their energy
  • their priorities for the day
  • their healthy emotions
  • their long-term commitments
  • their examples of faith and optimism

Back in college, I was tasked to take care of and drive a woman missionary to a series of speaking engagements for a week. We had several delays and inconveniences while we maneuvered southern California traffic jams. I drove while she journaled. I was curious so I said, “May I ask what you are journaling about? You seem so calm”. She replied, “Steve, I’m journaling prayers and great requests of God. These traffic jams are perfect opportunities for me to open up my heart and mind to God and ask BIG THINGS”.

Letting go of things I cannot control,

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About the Author

Steve Gutzler is the President of Leadership Quest, a Seattle-based leadership development company. Steve is a dynamic, highly-sought-after speaker who has delivered more than 2,500 presentations to a list of clients including Microsoft, Starbucks, the Seattle Seahawks, Pandora Radio, Boeing, Cisco, Starwood Corporation, the Ritz Carlton group, and the U.S. Social Security Administration. He recently was voted #1 by the readership of Huffington Post as the Most Inspirational Leader on Social Media.

A published author on leadership and emotional intelligence, Steve resides near Seattle with his wife Julie where they enjoy time with their three adult children and six grandchildren.