Emotional Intelligence

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By CPA, Derek Mwenesi

The best I.Q

I’ll tell you a story. While in primary school there was this lad, Mweu. Now Mweu was no ordinary fellow. This lad had managed to stay on top of his class from standard one all the way to standard eight in the 8-4-4 system. He was the envy of this side of town, having never tasted anything but number one in all of his primary school time. This, of course, came with a lot of envy, respect, accolades, and honour to not just him but his friends, teachers, and extended family. He used to sweep all the awards, accolades, and respect in all the subjects examined by either scoring all the percentage marks or a percentage less than the total.

He was a darling with teachers, the envy of fellow students, and a great example in the eyes of the parents of the other students. Beneath all this glamour and limelight lay a risk that no one detected. It wasn’t until the K.C.P.E. exam results for that particular year came out that Mweu scored an authoritative score in the region, formerly known as Nairobi province. This booked him a place in one of the most prestigious secondary schools at the time, as everyone stood in applause to congratulate him and wish him the best in the next phase of his education.

After being called up to one of the top national schools at the time, Mweu would be exposed to a new environment that was composed of top brains from across the provinces, now counties, and the country at large. Imagine having the top five students from each county all in a stream in high school. This presented a challenge that Mweu never imagined or prepared himself for.

When the first term of the secondary school year drew to a close, Mweu realized that he wasn’t the best after all. It came as a surprise to him when the Form one results were posted on the school’s notice board. The competition in the school was so stiff that only fractional figures separated the students. Other students had tied. He stood there in disbelief and he later retreated to the back of the crowd of boys who had curiously gathered to know their performance. He eventually left, disheartened and with his head downcast. The culture shock caught him by surprise and no one had prepared him for this eventuality. Imagine scoring top marks only to realize that you were not the best after all and other students are better than you, not in one but all possible subjects.

Coming from an orphanage in one of the rural Ukambani villages, Mweu didn’t have much mentorship and this presented a challenge. He had come out at the bottom half of the class in the first term examination results. This would affect his psyche and the realization that he wasn’t the best after all was too much for him to take.

Not being able to acclimatize to the new norm, Mweu eventually dropped out of school and retreated to his grandmother’s place in Ukambani, a place he felt more secure. The results affected him to the point he would need counselling and rehabilitation to absorb the shock, which wasn’t forth-coming. Being an introvert he kept to himself most of the time and would only seek friendship after much analysis of the person involved. This made him withdraw even more to his company alone and as fate would have it he was always alone.

He started herding cattle where he was last seen by his former teacher who sought to understand why he had dropped out of school. His circumstances affected him to the point he broke down as he could not understand why he wasn’t number one anymore. With the “bad” results, a part of him left him, and with no willpower to continue his education he felt broken inside, he lost his mind and felt useless. To him, number one came with status. He had gotten used to this and being anything else felt empty and like a failure.

Statistics show that there are more Mweu’s in the education system, bright students who drop out of school as a result of a lack of emotional intelligence. The same statistics show that the average students in the class are the ones who are making it in careers across the board. So, what happens to the geniuses, the crème dela crème of brains?

Most of those top brains of students who go to medical school don’t make it to the final year due to pressure relating to the demands of the system, resulting in alcoholism, drug abuse, and other categories of societal misfits. These students are suffering from low emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence you may ask?

E.I. is the ability to overcome complex challenges while maintaining calm from within. It’s the balance between your heart and mind in that when you face a bad outcome, you can overcome this by not taking it to heart. By rising up to challenge yourself even more, one is able to scale heights despite the odds. On the flip side when you achieve an accomplishment, you don’t let it get to your head or boast and chest thump to close associates and colleagues. Scientists have pointed out the importance of E. I by stating authoritatively that it’s the new best intelligence because, with this, professionals can climb up the career ladder by maneuvering complex career challenges to get to the apex. In a nutshell, E.I. beats high I.Q hands down. It’s imperative to note that E.I. is essential to building greater relationships, career growth, and development.

Parents can borrow a leaf from this subject by encouraging their kids to remember that at times they are likely to fall short in an area but this should not be taken to mean that they are failures. In fact E.I. can be taken to challenge the kids to greater heights and to be better than they were. The pressures involved in the career ladder can present a challenge unless one uses a lot of emotional intelligence to overcome them.

CPA, Derek Mwenesi is a freelance writer, Financial Analyst, business strategist and contributor to the Finance and accounting fields.

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