It’s just the tip of the iceberg. That phrase was ultimately what sunk the great Titanic.
In the Spring of 1912, the “Unsinkable Ship” would make its maiden voyage – launching from Belfast, Ireland and set to arrive in New York City. Considered a modern marvel at the time, individuals who made it on the ship for this inaugural sailing considered themselves lucky.
As we all know, the “unsinkable ship” did sink on April 14-15, 1912. We’ve all heard the stories and learned the facts. There were a number of things that went wrong, all of which – if tweaked just so – could have potentially helped the ship avoid its tragic ending.
What appeared to be a piece of ice that the ship’s crew tried to avoid when spotted, was, in fact, a large iceberg from Greenland that caused the fatal damage. While the exact size of the iceberg will probably never be known, early newspaper reports indicated the height and length of the iceberg was approximated at 50 to 100 feet high and 200 to 400 feet long. The point? There was a lot more to it than met the eye.
Our Personal Icebergs
Just as the crew underestimated the size and significance of the iceberg below the surface – so can the importance of one’s emotional intelligence seemingly be discounted until it’s too late.
So much emphasis has been placed on our technical abilities, skills, and intelligence. From a young age, we are pushed to attain the highest grades and test scores in an effort to get ahead and be chosen amongst our peers as most qualified and capable.
Our hard-skills and abilities are important; however, they are just the tip of the iceberg. What lies below is actually quite a bit more critical in how successful we’ll really be. If IQ is the tip of the iceberg, our emotional intelligence (EQ) is the base.
It’s a topic and skill that’s completely misunderstood. When you show up to a meeting, you’re an iceberg. When you begin to speak, people start to form impressions of you very quickly – they may even conclude what your IQ, or the tip/visible part of the iceberg, is based on these impressions. What many initially overlook is the depth and breadth that lies underneath – your motivations, intentions, aspirations, determination, etc. These are the factors that set individuals aside, that ultimately result in a person’s success.
It is the bulk of the iceberg that is the most significant – it’s what can’t always be seen but will make the greatest impact on those around us. To measure your EQ, I recommend getting the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and taking their online assessment. I’ve used it with hundreds of clients and students and find their recommendations for your EQ improvement to be powerful and effective. Check out a keynote I’ve given on the power of emotional intelligence.