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You might be good at winning, but are you secure enough to lose?
Recently, I was working with a group of men. We were discussing security and strength. The question came up: are you strong enough to win and secure enough to lose?
Now, I realize this topic applies to all people (not only men), but I thought it was an interesting discussion considering the role many men take or believe they’re supposed to take. Society tells men they’re supposed to be strong. They’re supposed to win. They’re supposed to go for the championship and be driven.
But on the other side of this competitive drive is loss. When we go all out and fully engage, we become strong enough to win, but we also become secure enough to accept that losing is the other side of the coin. If we don’t accept the possibility of losing, then we may be holding back too much.
It’s easy to compete with others when we know we’re good at something. When we’re assured a win (or at least a fair shot), we go into the situation with confidence and self-assuredness.
On the other hand, when you aren’t sure you’re skilled at a task, do you still give it your all? Do you go in and give it your full effort, even if you know it’s going to be hard? Do you try it, even though you might not win?
Many of us get stuck because we stop pushing ourselves beyond our areas of mastery. We get tied up in the pleasure of being great at what we’re doing. It feeds our ego, and we feel on top of our game. But after a while, we also get bored.
Now when this boredom sets in, we may not recognize our feelings as boredom. We may instead think we’re not happy with our job or we haven’t found our passion. We may feel, neutral, or blah about our situation. Similarly, we may think our relationship isn’t as novel and exciting anymore. We may believe that our romantic feelings for our partner are waning. Our eye may even start to wander.
Boredom masked as contentment isn’t a failure on the part of those around us. We may feel like we’re coasting along, going through the same motions every day because our job isn’t stimulating, or our spouse isn’t thrilling. The reality is, we’re coasting because we’ve decided to dial it in.
The truth is, if you’re bored, it’s because you’re not pushing yourself further. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t putting yourself out there enough. If you’re feeling unexcited, it’s because you aren’t pushing yourself to engage and get more involved. You aren’t challenging yourself enough.
I’ve met many men who are extremely strong, smart, and competitive. They’re strong, and they believe others aren’t driven enough to keep them interested. They may feel like their job isn’t keeping up with them. They may feel like their partner isn’t meeting with their expectations.
The reality is, they’re not keeping themselves interested. They’re able to say, “other people bore me because they can’t keep up,” but it’s really on them to continue exceeding their expectations. It’s not someone else’s responsibility to hang on to your interest or keep you engaged.
If you’re bored with always coming in first, you aren’t playing the game hard enough. You’re getting comfortable as a big fish in a small pond.
So, you may be strong enough to win at the game you’re playing now and to compete on the level that you’re currently at. But can you beat yourself? Can you push yourself to continue moving into spaces where you aren’t the smartest, strongest, or most competitive in the room?
So, men, let’s talk for a minute about your romantic relationships. Did you know most romantic partners cater to you? They manage your fragile ego. They allow you to pretend you’re dominant in a few zones.
Think about it—when you come home after a long day, you get to be the hero. You get to be the big dog who comes home and gets the fun. You play with the kids and rile them up. You may do a few dishes or help with the laundry and then you feel like the hero. Meanwhile, your wife or partner is managing the rest of the game. She’s dealing with the day-to-day nitty-gritty. She’s cleaning up the messes and getting everything taken care of.
Again, it’s a broad generalization, but many men are too insecure to be fully engaged with their whole family. To be fully engaged, you need to be vulnerable. You have to be open and emotional. This may mean doing things that feel silly, embarrassing, or difficult. It may mean helping out in ways that aren’t comfortable for you (or don’t align with your ego).
Once again, it’s about pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.
For both men and women engaged in a relationship, it becomes a question of truth. Are you strong enough to tell the truth that needs to be said? When the truth is told to you (no matter how difficult), do you listen? Or do you defend and make pitched battles?
There is a vulnerability in “losing” fights with our partner. We have to admit we’re wrong and agree with the truth when it’s told to us. That means, if your wife says, “you’re not doing enough around the house.” You need to listen. She’s probably right. (It also means women need to speak up and say something when they’re dissatisfied.)
In our book, The Heart of the Fight, we discuss the importance of telling and agreeing with the truth. It’s one of the rules of engagement to help you have better fights. It’s not that conflict is wrong or needs to be avoided; conflict makes your relationship stronger! But each person needs to go in to fight FOR the relationship, rather than against.
If you tell the truth and always agree with the truth, fights don’t break down into petty battles. You stop attacking each other or fighting to be “right.” It takes vulnerability to admit when you’re wrong. It takes vulnerability to listen to the input of your partner and make adjustments. It also requires vulnerability to speak up even when you’re afraid you’re going to piss off the other person.
If both partners follow the rules of engagement—agreeing with the truth, fighting for the relationship (not against), and realizing each person is 100% responsible for his or her emotions—you may find yourself battling towards bliss. Allow yourself to lose, admit fault, and engage in activities when you aren’t guaranteed a win.
Your satisfaction and fulfillment exist outside of your comfort zone. If you want to live a life of greater happiness, success, and purpose, you must test your limits. Push yourself to go further, branch out, and get a little uncomfortable. Learn to become strong enough to lose, rather than relying on the safe wins.
For more ways to get more out of life, visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming More Life Training, where you’ll connect with others on their transformational journey. We’re excited to announce our courses are now available for download at a special introductory price. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about your relationships and yourself!
Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.