I don’t want to conquer the market.
I don’t want to dominate segments.
I don’t want to disrupt anything.
I just want to make my money, have ultra successful customers, and live my life happily.
This quote caught my attention because I’ve seen lots of similar sentiments from small-business owners over the past several months. It’s a challenge I’ve also faced in the past, namely: How do I determine what I really want out of running a business?
What’s helped me to answer this question, and others like it, is a simple rule of emotional intelligence, something I like to call:
Let’s break down exactly what the rule of recentering is, and how it can help you work better and live better.
(If you find value in the rule of recentering, you might be interested in my full emotional intelligence course — which includes 20 more rules that help you develop your emotional intelligence. Check out the full course here.)
How the rule of recentering helps you control emotions and make better decisions
To recenter means to cause oneself, or more specifically, one’s thoughts or emotions, to become centered again. It is an important part of emotional intelligence, the ability to understand and manage emotions effectively.
The rule of recentering involves taking time to reaffirm one’s primary goals, values, and key principles–even listing these in writing, if possible–and then using these as a center to help focus one’s thoughts and emotions.
This is necessary because we are surrounded by so much noise. So many voices telling us how we should think or what we should do. When it comes to running a business, it’s easy to forget that success means something different to everyone. And it’s even easier to fall victim to others’ definitions of success.
But by taking the time needed to reaffirm and write down what’s important to you–with pen and paper if possible, not just a keyboard–you can’t help but slow down and bring your thoughts back to your center. And psychology teaches us that controlling our thoughts allows us to exert a measure of control over our emotions. Thus, the rule of recentering helps us internalize what we’ve written, creating a positive cycle of thinking and feeling that is more in line with our own values and principles.
I learned this firsthand some years ago, when writing EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence. I wasn’t sure where my focus should be. Should I concentrate on helping business people, like executives and team leads? Or should I focus more on the “personal” side of EQ–understanding and managing emotions at home, with our families, and with other relationships?
From a business perspective, the consultants and other experts I worked with advised me to “niche down,” to pick one of these categories and stick with it.
“You can’t help everyone,” they would say.
But here’s the thing: My goals weren’t the same as most companies’. I didn’t want to grow as big as possible. I didn’t need, or even want, to become a millionaire. I just wanted a healthy business that supports my family, allows me to spend more time with my family, and gives me the chance to do something I enjoy–pass on countless lessons of emotional intelligence that I’ve learned and continue to learn–with as many people as possible, in as many contexts as possible.
I used the rule of recentering to remind me of what my own personal and business goals were, so I could use those to drive my decisions. In this case, it meant ignoring the experts.
It was the right choice. After all, work life and home life are so intertwined, and I didn’t want to focus on one while excluding the other.
On the one hand, you should never ignore the value of EQ in business, not only because it leads to financial gains, but also because it increases the quality of your relationships at work, your ability to work with others, and the amount of happiness you can actually get out of work.
On the other hand, the relationships you nurture outside of work have much greater potential to enrich and fulfill you. “When it comes to EQ, the workplace is the practice field and that ‘game day’ happens each night when we get home to our families,” says executive coach Shane Wallace. “The more we can practice facing challenges in the workplace by leveraging EQ, the better versions of ourselves show up at home when it really matters.”
Isn’t that great? And it works both ways. When you’re consistently working to be the best version of yourself for your family and friends, you’ll bring that best version to work as well.
So, if you’re struggling with a major decision, if you’re challenged with finding the right path forward, if you need help separating the voices that matter from all the other noise, follow the rule of recentering.
Doing so will help you not only define what success means to you, but also take the steps needed to achieve it.