Emotional intelligence is deemed to be critical to having personal and professional success. It is the ability to handle one’s own emotions and to relate appropriately and empathetically with others. The four categories of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Someone who is self-aware understands her own emotions and her reactions to situations. She also is aware of how her behavior drives the behaviors of others. Self-management refers to the ability to control and adapt one’s emotions and behaviors to situations and as situations evolve. Social awareness means that people understand how situations affect the people around them. These people look for cues, including language and nonverbal behavior, to assess circumstances in which they find themselves. Relationship management means that an individual understands her own emotions and behaviors as well as the emotions and behaviors of others and uses that information to have good relationships with other people.
People with high emotional intelligence know how they feel and how others feel and are thus able to adjust their behavior to a
The women featured in this chapter used their understanding of people to succeed and surmount their challenges.
Everybody Welcome –Fannie Mae Duncan
Fannie Mae Duncan learned while working at her family’s fruit stand in Oklahoma that you always treated paying customers with respect. She applied her emotional intelligence when she ran the Cotton Club, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, during an era of de facto segregation. After she was told by the police chief to admit only African American customers, her non-Black customers rebelled and complained to him. He reversed his stance, and Fannie Mae was able to again put up her sign that said, “Everybody Welcome.”
The granddaughter of slaves and the first in her family to graduate from high school, Fannie Mae overcame her father’s
death when she was young and many years of working at menial jobs to become an entrepreneur in Colorado Springs. Her family moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma, from Alabama before she was born, and her years in Guthrie enabled her to demonstrate her quick mind. Her father let her make change at their fruit stand because of her excellent math skills. After his death, her family moved to Colorado, where opportunities were provided to her by other family members so she could both work and go to school.
When Fannie Mae heard jazz greats in Denver and realized that they would come to Colorado Springs to perform if they were provided with a venue and paying customers, she established the Cotton Club. It became very popular. It
was also an integrated establishment – the first in Colorado Springs. When the police chief requested that she not run an integrated operation, she said, “You didn’t tell me to check for color.” Because she offered a club that was easy to find, had good food, provided outstanding entertainment, and was “hard to leave,” her many customers of all races and ethnicities rallied to her cause. She welcomed everybody, and the police chief eventually became one of her biggest supporters.
Fannie Mae opened new doors for society and for women. Her sign, “Everybody Welcome,” left a legacy for how people from different walks of life can come together.
There’s No Challenge Too Great –Gudy Gaskill
The Colorado Trail, more than 550 miles from Denver to Durango, Colorado, would not have happened without Gudy Gaskill. Its completion reflected her philosophy: “There’s no challenge too great that you can’t overcome, if you really become bold and do not believe the answer no.”
Gudy overcame the male-dominated US Forest Service, the male-dominated mountaineering clubs in Colorado, and nature
itself to organize the volunteers who made the Colorado Trail a reality. It was said of her that she led with determination, with
vision, with creativity, and from her heart. And based on her emotional intelligence, people wanted to work with her because she made it clear to them what benefits they would derive from the effort.
Her backbone, and also her capacity for positivity and finding the best in people, emerged from a very difficult childhood. Her father was very controlling, and her mother was very submissive. When Gudy encouraged her mother to be more aggressive in dealing with her father, Gudy was punished. She decided, however, to emerge positively from that experience. As a result, she has been described as “attracting people like honey attracts bees.”
A woman with almost endless energy, Gudy painted watercolors of nature’s beauty. She taught herself pottery. She believed she could set her mind to do something, and then she could learn how to do it.
When she set her mind on building the Colorado Trail, it got done. She found and organized the volunteers. She wrote grant proposals to acquire the funding for the materials and to feed the volunteers. She welcomed the volunteer groups when they arrived to work for the weekend. She cooked for them, she cleaned up, and she thanked them – she gave them watercolors she had painted, poems she had written, and pottery she had crafted.
Gudy didn’t know that the Colorado Trail would become a model for other projects around the world, as well as an attraction for tourists from outside of Colorado. She just knew she wanted to share her love of nature and the beauty of the state. And, she found there was “no challenge too great that you can’t overcome.”
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