How An Old Car Can Help Manage Your Emotional Self-Awareness
One of my most memorable – although definitely not reliable – cars was an old blue (well, rust with blue mixed in) colored Datsun B210 station wagon. (For those who may not know, Datsun is the former name of Nissan cars.) Yeah, this was definitely not a vehicle that turned heads, unless it was to avoid gagging.
It was transportation though. Cheap also. In fact, some friends that were moving out of state wanted to give it to me as they knew I was in graduate school, working a full-time job at the university, and to make ends meet, I also had several part time jobs teaching and administering standardized exams. Without me driving it we agreed upon $50.
What a really, really great value, for both of us. They got rid of a car they didn’t want to transport literally across the country to Washington state, and I got my own transportation, instead of using the only other vehicle our growing family shared.
Really, Really Cheap Transportation
Little did I know however, that it didn’t have power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, or other important features. It still didn’t matter to me however; I could sacrifice these silly creature comforts for a short time.
This short time didn’t last long though. Soon after I replaced the drum brakes, and then the car started overheating. The brakes I fixed myself. I had to call in a much smarter person to figure out the overheating problem however: my father.
Until the issue was diagnosed and fixed he suggested that I carefully monitor the gauges. Whenever the temperature rose, he told me I would have to dissipate the heat from the motor so it didn’t damage the engine.
Don’t Let It Overheat
How does one dissipate heat from an engine? Well, you turn the heaters on! Ha, that’s funny as this happened in the summer, with outside temps already in the mid-90’s. So, going to work in a suit, all while yanking on a steering wheel that acted as if I was attempting to crack an unopened 200-year-old bank vault door, pressing on a brake pedal like Fred Flintstone stopping his car, all with the heaters on, hey no biggie.
Monitor the Gauges
I did monitor that temp gauge carefully. In fact every chance I could I peered at this like I was peeking out of my room Christmas eve to see Santa Claus. If the red bar rose to those higher numbers, I knew I had to turn the heat on, or even turn the car off to let it cool down. I think I even saw a wink coming from the car I stared at her so much…
Eventually with my Dad’s insights I replaced the thermostat, water pump, hoses, and radiator fluid. I was back on the road, and without the heater on!
I learned several valuable lessons through all of this. Firstly, ask a few more questions up front. As much as I had to do some repairs, I was always thankful for that car, and for my friends. Knowing there were a few issues wouldn’t have changed my purchase decision in this case as I really needed a cheap car; however, I would have had a better perspective ahead of time.
Monitor Your Gauges
Secondly, really get to know and be aware. Yes, in this case I mean to be aware of the car’s temperature. If I wouldn’t have observed the rising temps that first time, there’s a good chance the car would have overheated and the engine would have blown up. Not good, even if only for a $50 car.
On a much deeper level, think about this for yourself. Do you monitor your gauges? Do you know when you are “overheating”? Do you know what causes you to “overheat”?
Many times we don’t know what these triggers are, and when they cause a rise in our responses. We react, or respond, because that’s what we’ve always done, or that’s what others expect of us, or because we’re the boss and people must do what we say, or it’s how we learned to (over)react, or that response is warranted because of what someone else did or said.
Knowing your self is key to understand your triggers. In emotional intelligence lingo (EQ-i 2.0), this is called “Emotional Self-Awareness”. In the book “The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success”, Steven Stein, Ph.D. and Howard Book, M.D. state that Emotional Self-Awareness “is the foundation on which most of the other elements of emotional intelligence are built, the necessary first step toward exploring and coming to understand yourself, and toward change.”
Have you ever felt your emotions change? Likely you have. Most of us, with a certain amount of insight, can begin to recognize our “ouch points” as Stein and Book call them. Is it a certain crunch time at work possibly? Maybe it’s one particular colleague that rubs you the wrong way. It could also be even what you think about a situation.
When you recognize your triggers (“ouch points”), you can begin to change them. You can change your behavior, your responses, and even your thoughts. This awareness – emotional self-awareness – is crucial for your success!
Key-In To Your Emotions
What gets you irritated? When do you seem to overreact? Once you identify and are aware of these triggers, you can take several realistic steps to respond more positively:
- Avoid these encounters and situations
- If you know a person, situation, or challenge may trigger a negative response, don’t go there. As an example, when the military faces an arena of known road-side explosives, they avoid it. Why enter an area that will likely blow up on you?
- Remove yourself from these potentially volatile situations
- When in the challenging situation, walk away and leave. You don’t lose in this situation, you win by not engaging. If the same military unit is forced into a battle in which they will not win, they return and regroup. You do the same.
- Create pre-determined response “talk-tracks”
- Sometimes you must face the person or situation. Before you enter the arena, anticipate what may transpire and have pre-prepared responses, statements, or actions that are mature, well-thought out, and keep your emotions in check. Why does the military train so much? Because they know that in replicating combat situations, when the troops face a battle, they will have experienced this beforehand. At this point it is a matter of repeating what they have already learned. If for you it means practicing in front of a mirror at home, or with a trusted friend, do it then. Remember the “6P Rule”: Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
Profiting (Learning) From My Datsun
After finishing graduate school several years later, and when I had the financial ability I did sell that old Datsun. In fact, I sold it for $250 – a profit of $200! It wasn’t about the money though. That Datsun not only provided the necessary transportation, it (and my father) truly taught me a lesson in emotional self-awareness. If I can monitor the gauges of the car, I can act before something serious happens. When I monitor my own personal gauges, I too can avoid serious breakdowns in communication and effectiveness. In doing so, I will increase my emotional intelligence (“EQ”) and will ultimately become more successful!
Send me a message to find out how you too can stop overheating and improve your emotional self-awareness today! (www.peakcareersuccess.com/contact/).