Oprah Winfrey : A case study in Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman's book - Emotional Intelligence was released in 1995 and ever since, EQ or Emotional Quotient has become a benchmark to measure success in different parameters of life

(Caveat : Success itself is a subjective term, but to keep it simple, here's my definition - If you are spending 90% of your time doing what you like and want to do and roughly 10% of your time doing things you "have" to do, you are a success in my opinion)

Here are a few things we know in general.

  • People with High EQ cope with life’s curve balls better

  • They have better social-emotional skills

  • Their motivation is higher in general

  • High EQ = High perseverance

  • High EQ = Impulse control

  • High EQ = Better coping mechanisms

High IQ leads to increased self awareness that leads to High EQ. So a balanced combination of High IQ and High EQ is a great combination to make you successful in life.

Let's take a case study of Oprah Winfrey the famous talk show host and by all measures a very successful person.

We know Oprah came from a very poor background. She was born in extreme poverty and had a violent childhood. And yet she made it big.

Before we go further on Oprah here's a very interesting picture for Self Awareness - also called the Johari Window. Let's read this first


Its pretty self explanatory but the simple way to look at this Johari Window is that if you remove as many blind spots from your personality as possible your self awareness will increase and will pave for a more successful path for you.

So how did Oprah build self awareness. She probably build on her experience as she struggled through her early days in the media.  Here's how her career path looks like

  • Worked as news Anchor in Baltimore
  • Quit job after 8 years
  • Took a calculated risk to move to Chicago
  • Had a pulse on how people emotionally connected to her
  • Found her footing, negotiated a deal in 1988 to own her own Show instead of Salary
  • Never looked back
All her experience, good or bad, growing up through those rough neighborhoods, helped her build awareness and perseverance. And more importantly she took the feedback and put a light on those blind spots. Today she's living a life she defined herself and calls the shots.

America is a land of opportunities. But not all use that to their advantage. Oprah did. She found her niche and she took baby steps, she took calculated risks, she made bold moves but more importantly she never took her eyes off the prize.
And that cannot be possible without a high Emotional Quotient.

If Oprah Winfrey with the tremendous baggage of background can make it, we really do not have an excuse.

I will end this with quote from Margarette Thatcher - I started with two advantages : no money and great parents


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