I took a test recently, and I have something to admit.
It’s about my EQ.
My EQ is low. I mean really low.
For some, this may come as a surprise.
For others it probably, it probably “clarifies” some things.
It’s a bit weird to share this so publicly, especially given that I am in sales and we talk so much about empathy and EQ, etc.
So does this mean I have no EQ? Of course not.
Does it mean I am a bad leader? Of course not.
Does it mean it’s something I have to work on regularly? Of course, it does.
Ironically, about a week or two after taking this test, my friends at Sales Hacker asked me if I’d like to update a post I wrote in August of 2019 about what it’s in your personal health stack. Little did I know what was in store for any of us back then — COVID, the 2020 election, the events of January 6 2021, Supreme Court issues, the economy shifting… and the list goes on.
📚 Read: 9 Sales Leaders on the 2022 Recession: Advice, Tips, Strategy
This is an attempt to help folks remember to take care of themselves as well as their loved ones.
Learning from Millennials — the right way to think about mental health
First, understand the difference between mental health and mental illness. While I’m not an expert, my general thoughts in defining the difference are:
- Stop thinking of mental health as mental illness. They are different things.
- Mental health is around the general well-being (internal).
- Mental illness is often associated with negative actions based on mental health (external).
One of the great parts of working and learning from Millennials in sales is how they’ve forced the old dogs to learn some new tricks — especially around mental health and emotional intelligence.
Related: Don’t Call, Just Text: How to Sell to Millennials 📚
We’ve “Millennialismed” the work world. And that, in my opinion, has helped us all improve our lives.
- Millennials have shown us balance
- They’ve shown us how to enjoy life
- They’ve shown us how to stop and smell the roses.
- They’ve shown us how to be more accepting of others
These are the things I work on at a macro level to help me elevate my EQ and bolster my personal health.
So let’s start with EQ in general terms.
Defining emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is commonly defined by four attributes:
- Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. You know your strengths and weaknesses and have self-confidence.
- Social awareness – You have empathy. You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
- Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.
📚 Read: Why You Need Empathy & Emotional Intelligence to Sell Now (+3 Tips)
I won’t go deep into my specifics but I can simply say: I am good at some of these things, terrible at others, and in some cases probably built coping mechanisms and exercises to mask them. And then when I am not paying attention? The bad ones sneak out.
These four concepts are at the heart of a sustainable Personal Health Stack that will keep you going no matter how tough the going gets.
So let’s talk about it: Your Personal Health Stack.
Building your “Personal Health Stack”
For years we have been poked and prodded to make sure we have the strongest “Sales Stack”, “Marketing Stack”, and “Customer Success” stack. Which is a good thing.
We need these tools to be better at our jobs, to be more efficient and more effective.
- Want to be better at sales? Better educate yourself and practice your pitch, get the right tools, get quality data.
- Want to be better at marketing? Better educate yourself and learn how to run multiple projects, get the right tools, talk to more customers.
📚 Read: 4 Steps to Audit and Fix a Broken Sales Stack [Free Checklist]
We also need tools to help us be our better selves.
Yet when it comes to the single greatest factory we live in 24/7, we don’t always do the things necessary to keep the machine running.
I am talking about your body and your mind.
- Want to be a better you? Better stop ignoring the voices in our heads that tell us “you know better.”
This is where the personal health stack comes in.
12 tips, techniques, and tactics that belong in your Personal Health Stack
These are the things that we can control when things get out of control. (Not everything is for everyone, and perhaps you have something you do differently that helps — if so, share in the comments below!)
1. Take 3 deep breaths
It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how fast your mind clears when you sit still and take 3 deep breaths. (It takes about 10-15 seconds, so you have no excuse not to try it!)
2. Find support
This can be family, friends, your co-workers, clergy or other community leaders. Humans aren’t built to function alone.
3. Practice meditation
I’ve personally done 3,500 minutes of meditation in 9-minute increments. That’s 59 hours, or 9 days of vacation I’ve created for myself in 15 months.
4. Go to therapy
Yup, it works. It may take you some time to find the right one — like kissing a lot of frogs before you find a prince. This can be frustrating, don’t give up! The right therapist relationship will feel right. They will support you and create an environment where you feel safe sharing your honest self.
If the relationship doesn’t feel right, move on until you find one that does.
5. Use adult coloring books
A friend recommended these to me and while not my forte, I can definitely see the value. It’s a calming activity that helps your nervous system regulate when you’re experiencing stress.
6. Sleep with weighted blankets
As my 9-year old said, “Wow, it’s like someone cuddling with me all night long.” Who doesn’t want that feeling?
According to the Sleep Foundation, weighted blankets boost serotonin levels, reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase melatonin (which helps you get better sleep).
7. Participate in 12-step programs
Yes, if you are struggling with something that is having a long-term negative impact on your life and mental health, these are a great place to spend time. Even if you just show up and listen. I specifically separate this from other support as it feels different in my mind.
Don’t want to hear it? Too bad! Exercise is key for mental health. Even if you hate doing it, the benefits are clear. Here are a few options:
3 Minute Walk – It’s not always about the high-intensity cardio. I believe in the 3-minute walk. Here’s how it works. Go outside, and walk in one direction for 3 minutes. Turn around and walk back for 3 minutes.
Walk and Talk – Similar to the “this meeting could have been an email,” comes “this zoom call could have been a phone call.” So yes, make sure some calls are phone calls, and walk around while they’re happening.
Tip – Unless there is a screen share, there is no reason you cannot dial in from your phone, tell folks you are keeping your camera off, and go for a walk.
9. Have a good diet
We know that if we eat healthier our mind is better.
It’s easier said than done. I think about it daily, actually lots of time throughout the day. In fact, probably hours a day. It’s hard for me. I have an amazing sweet tooth. My doctor once said, “You know you really can have 2-3 Hershey Kisses a day for dessert.” My response was, “Yeah, that won’t happen without an internal child-like temper tantrum… where the child wins.”
Personally, I love the app called “Eat Right Now”. It combines meditation and a compassionate understanding of how some of us struggle with our relationship with food.It’s done in small daily exercises. And the results and impacts are felt immediately. It teaches you to understand your relationship with food. How to address and change it if you want, and how to even ride out “cravings.”
10. Establish a personal board of directors
Everyone should have one of these in my opinion. In life you will have a financial advisor, spiritual advisor, etc.
Why not have your own personal board of directors? Here’s how it works:
Define the 5 board members you want. They may be sources of support about diet, exercise, financial support, emotional support, relationship advice, political chaos advice, etc.
Then call each one and tell them they’ve been nominated to be a part of your personal board of directors. It’s ok to tell them if they don’t want to do it they won’t have it and it will not affect your friendship. Also, tell them, that’s not the only thing you will talk about with them. Nobody wants to be the trash collector all the time. But they won’t mind helping you keep the place tidy.
11. Learn to say no
It is ok to say, ‘no’. Say no to politics and the news for 24 hours. Say no to going out with your friends. And yes, you can say no to being on someone’s personal board of directors. You certainly do not owe anyone an obligation for why you are saying no.
(Note: Saying no doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk. The EQ in us might suggest saying something like, “I know you need something, I simply have a lot on my plate right now. Is there another way I can support you?”)
12. Give back
One of the best things we can all do is to help others. Maybe you donate your time to an important cause or your religious affiliation. Maybe you are parts of a community like Sales Hacker and LinkedIn and your comments could help someone else. We know these things help others feel better. And the best part is, it helps us feel better too.
The world is changing. It always has, and it always will. In today’s information age where we can be notified of the slightest thing by a simple ping on our devices, it’s important to not only take stock of the world around you, we want you to take stock of the world inside you.
So as we work to focus on our overall health, I encourage everyone to take inventory of your personal health stack and see if there is something you want to change. And if so, I hope this article has given you some ideas to take a step forward.
And remember, it’s not a question of which step you take first, simply that you find one that feels like the right first step for you.
Big thanks to Sales Hacker for supporting this important topic.
Remember, life happens for us, not to us.
Now I wonder if I take that EQ test again right now, will I score higher?
Richard Harris is founder of the Harris Consulting Group, co-founder of the Surf and Sales Summit, and so much more. Follow him on LinkedIn for more on mental health in sales, asking the right questions, and more.