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The Secret To Leveling Up Your Professional Career

You know about IQ, but what about EQ?

Workin' Girl

When I graduated from college, I couldn't wait to be considered an adult. I was ready to get hired by my dream job, make a ton of money, and live my best life. Well, as we all know, that is not exactly the reality of post-grad life. One thing that has personally been nerve-wracking for me about joining the workforce is the idea of always having to prove myself to others in order to get paid. Just typing that out automatically gives me a headache. Sending your resume to dozens of companies, hoping they like you enough for an interview, then if you get the job, you have to make sure you are on your 'A' game at all times. It's exhausting AF in order to keep said job. And don't even get me started with the entrepreneur route.

Let's just say, trial and error are close friends of mine. It wasn't until three years ago that I figured out what that secret was to help me with all my work problems and obtain the keys to success. I noticed that once I mastered this, my professional career became much smoother for me. I was able to see myself level up like never before. The secret is (insert dramatic pause) having a high EQ.

You're probably thinking, OK Kiara, I know what an IQ is, but what the hell is an EQ? Well my lovelies, EQ stands for emotional quotient, also known as emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence, in the general sense, is the ability to manage your emotions and understand the emotions of others. Some may not think emotions are an integral part of navigating the professional world; but the truth is, they are. Emotions are so intertwined in everything that we do, it affects our work life more than you think.

The Benefits Of Emotional Intelligence In Your Career

1. You are more tapped into your self-awareness.

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Self-awareness is a key component to having a high EQ. When you are self-aware, you know who you are. You know what you bring to the table and what you cannot bring to the table. You understand what your strengths are and what your areas of improvement are. Don't you hate it when you start thinking to yourself, "I wonder if they think I can do this job. Shit, I wonder if I can do this job." Well, self-awareness gives you the confidence where you don't have to rely on the validation of others. You have such a high sense of self that you can tell yourself, "I am capable and I am going to do the job the best way I can."

Even when you receive feedback from a manager or teammate, you are able to take feedback constructively and not defensively. Being self-aware also allows you to pivot better when there is unexpected change. You are able to look at a situation and identify if the change is a problem you can solve or something that is out of your control and you just try to adapt. Being self-aware helps with being more proactive than reactive. It really helps with reducing stress levels in tense environments and keeps you grounded.

2. You have better time management.

When you are able to manage your emotions, you are more likely able to manage your time too. I know I used to have the problem with over-committing to things. I would say "yes" all the time when asked to complete something. I would be running around trying to juggle 20 things knowing good and well I was only one human. I couldn't do it all. Having a high EQ helped me become more real with myself in how I spend my time. If I know I can complete five things in a certain amount of time, then I have to stick to those five things.

You are much more efficient with your time when you have less on your to-do list than with more.

When you manage your time better, you are more open to setting boundaries to make sure you do not overextend yourself. It can be tricky with saying "no" to tasks sometimes, because you want to impress your boss. I get that. But I guarantee you, if you are transparent with your boss about your capacity, they will be more understanding. Your boss would rather you complete a task giving it 100 percent than to juggle too many things and only giving the task 25 percent. If you explain to your boss that you are able to complete X amount of tasks effectively to get Z results, your boss will respect you and not see you as someone they can take advantage of. Time is more valuable to you when you have a high EQ.

3. You have motivation to grow.

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Have you heard of growth mindset vs. fixed mindset? Well, that's kind of how it is when you have a high EQ, you are able to recognize the difference. When you have a fixed mindset, you think that your traits and abilities are things you are born with. For example, if you think you were not born smart, then you will never be smart. A growth mindset is when you believe any trait or ability you have can be developed through hard work, knowledge, and being persistent. Having a high EQ allows you to tap into a growth mindset.

With a growth mindset, you gain a sense of drive within yourself to continue to work towards your goals no matter what. You rely on staying motivated from your own inner wants/desires without needing external forms of encouragement. There is nothing wrong with being motivated by friends or family, but the most important source of motivation is YOU. When you are more motivated from within, you are able to pick yourself back up quicker when obstacles come along. You are less likely to stay in a state of feeling discouraged or knocked down for a long period of time.

4. You become a networking guru.

Your professional career is not just about how you navigate the office, but also how you build professional relationships. You go to events where you meet so many people with all these different backgrounds and careers. It can be challenging to know where to start when you want to connect with someone. Well honey, let me tell you, when you have a high EQ, you know how to WERK THE ROOM. You have that keen eye on who to spark up a conversation with and who to just leave alone. Remember, with emotional intelligence, you are able to understand the emotions of others as well as your own.

So when networking, you are able to communicate with others in a way that is very intentional. The way you interact with people becomes more collaborative and less transactional. Another thing you will notice when networking, is that you are able to read body language and facial expressions. You are able to pick up on nonverbal cues in people more than people who do not have a high EQ. It allows you to be more aware of your surroundings and more observant of the people you meet. Networking brings so many possibilities for you in your career. So, when you know how to say the right things to the right people, you can market yourself for the best collaborations. People who interact with you will get a sense of 'she knows what she's talking about' and be more inclined to work with you.

5. You will be ahead of the game.

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Emotional intelligence is not something you think of as a skill to put on your resume, but you absolutely should. Having a high EQ separates you from the rest. Companies will see you as a person that exudes the team work and leadership qualities they look for in an employee. Companies today struggle with solutions on how to help their employees work well together, stay motivated, manage their time better, and acknowledge their strengths.

When you have a high EQ, you are the top candidate they need. You are already a valuable asset to the company's culture.

Even in the entrepreneur world, having a high EQ allows you to be a leader more than a manager. You can help inspire others in your team and provide high quality supportive that keeps the morale at an all-time high. It is extremely beneficial to have the power to be in tune with every single emotion you have. Being able to identify and control your emotions is one thing but using that to acknowledge emotions in others is similar to using emotions as a compass to climb up the success ladder.

Emotional intelligence is a hidden talent that you can definitely use to your advantage. In order to learn more about emotional intelligence, check out Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry. Click here to start.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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