Emotional Intelligence – Yoga For The Mind

Let Empathy Raise The Bottom Line

anabel with books

Understanding emotions is Anabel Jensen’s key to changing the world
By: Lynn Peithman Stock, Silicon Valley Business Journal


Age: 75

Hometown: Pocatello, Idaho

Residence: San Mateo

Career path: Teacher; Head of School, The Nueva School; President, Six Seconds; Professor of Education and Department Chair, Notre Dame de Namur University

Education: Ph.D., Educational Psychology, University of California Berkeley

Anabel Jensen’s journey to make the world a more empathetic place started way back when she was a toddler.  Today, as founder of Six Seconds, she teaches companies how to be more emotionally intelligent, which she says helps the bottom line.  Along the way, she received a most precious gift – at least four times – from one of the world’s greatest comedians.

Jensen co-founded Six Seconds, a Menlo Park non-profit dedicated to teaching emotional intelligence, 18 years ago.

In a nutshell, could you explain what emotional intelligence is?  Emotional Intelligence is looking at our emotions, managing our emotions, naming your emotions, and using them to be more effective problem solvers.

How do corporations use that?  On your website, you’ve got some pretty good names -FedEx, HSBC, and universities.  Corporations are actually interested in having individuals be more engaged and more committed to the product.  Finding a way to channel their energies into making the world a better place.  Usually, that has a pretty powerful impact on the bottom line.

Was there any particular experience in your life that set you on this path and created this interest?  When I was 3 ½ years old, my mother sends us out into the yard to play, and she says to us “Don’t go across the street because the big kids are over there.”  So guess what?  As soon as she left, we did exactly what she told us not to do.  We trundled across the street, and because I’m 3 ½, I’m not really paying attention to what I am doing, and there is a swing with a large high school girl in it and it clobbers me in the face.  So I get the end of my nose chopped off, I bit my tongue except for a little sliver, I break through all the bones in my cheek bones.

When the bandages came off, then I got a lot of, “Oh, my gosh, what happened to you?” “Oh, my gosh, what are all those stitches from?”

So, I think if emotional intelligence had been more prominent, at that moment in time, and someone had been able to deal with that 4-year-old at that point, provide some lessons to me that were more supportive, I wouldn’t have spent quite so many years locked in my bedroom, reading everything I can get my hands on.

When you were the director of Nueva School in Hillsborough, you gave a tour to Robin Williams and his wife and they eventually brought their children there.  This was a really interesting experience, especially when they said, “We don’t want to sign any autographs.”  At the end of the visit I walked them to their car in the parking lot, I then turned to Robin and said, “I may never have this opportunity again and so I would like to ask for a favor.”  I clearly saw a flash of disappointment in Robin’s eyes and face.  I believe that he thought I was going to ask for an autograph, I was not.  I asked for a hug. I got the most amazing hug. (Their children) were there for four or five years because I got that many hugs, I wish there had been more people that give a hug back.

You’re still working at 75.  Do you have any desire to retire?  I would have to tell you that I’m never too old, never too tired, never too weak to spend a little energy to make the world a better pace.  I feel really strongly about that.  That’s the whole purpose of Six Seconds – to build change-makers, help people to make changes in their communities, help them to make them in their homes, help them to make them in their nations.  I think that if we were all more empathetic about other people’s challenges, then we can solve so many of their problems.

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