Series on Emotional Intelligence: Self Control

Self-control is the ability to refrain from knee-jerk reactions in response to your emotions. It is the ability to stop and think before acting, and to pause and consider the best course of action in the present situation. It involves knowing what is important to you, what isn’t, and how that will translate into your actions and behavior. It often has little to do with academic intelligence but it plays an equally important role(sometimes more) in achieving success.

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Exactly why David Pologruto, a high-school physics teacher, was stabbed with a kitchen knife by one of his start students is still debatable. But the facts as widely reported are these:Jason H., a sophomore and straight-A student at a Coral Springs, Florida, high school, was fixated on getting into medical school. Not just any medical school-he dreamt of Harvard. But Pologruto, his physics teacher, had given Jason an 80 on a quiz. Believing the grade-a mere B- put his dream in jeopardy, Jason took a butcher knife to school and, in a confrontation with Pologruto in the physics lab, stabbed his teacher in the collarbone before being subdued in a struggle.

A judge found Jason innocent, temporarily insane during the incident- a panel of four psychologists and psychiatrists swore he was psychotic during the fight. Jason claimed he had been planning to commit suicide because of the test score, and had gone to Pologruto to tell him he was killing himself because of the bad grade. Pologruto told a different story: “I think he tried to completely do me in with the knife” because he was infuriated over the bad grade. After transferring to a private school, Jason graduated two years later at the top of his class. He had taken enough advanced courses to raise his grade point average to 4.614- way beyond A+.

The brightest among us can founder on the shoals of unbridled passions and unruly impulses; people with high IQs can be stunningly poor pilots of their private lives.

Source: Emotional Intelligence. Why it can matter more than IQ, by Daniel Goleman