Memorial Day Weekend — “Another One Bites the Dust!”

A bank holiday in Canada, Monday is for us Memorial Day, a time for reverie about the Truth of the Cross, that there, but for the grace of God and “Giants in the Earth,” who sacrificed themselves for species and family, go we.

How I planned on reverie. How I hoped to present you with a writing appropriate to the occasion. Instead, my friends, wearing my other hat as interim editor of a nonprofit ezine, I report only that I have spent the night successfully encouraging my least successful, highest maintenance staff member to resign. I’ve been, and remain, preoccupied.

Years ago, I competed at the international Elite level in distance running. A certain drama of ignorance replayed each race, especially if my clever and catty but fun Kenyan sisters dominated the lead pack. Invariably, the superior of two athletes early on accurately gauges relative breathing, heart rate and stride and knows without a doubt of her dominance. Equally invariably, the inferior of the two cannot conceptualize the other’s superiority so fails accurately to gauge it. At only a mile that second athlete falls back, stunned that in trying to match her colleague she blew up so otherwise inconceivably early.

Truly, crash and burn marked a failure of imagination, radical misperception of self, a complete subversion of the image that should have been visible in the mirror. In sum, the performance rated a fail of what I would call survival intelligence: the common denominator of IQ and emotional intelligence.

Some are gifted in dialogue, in interaction. Some are gifted in translating the imagined into written word. The two are not closely related but artisans of cousin-kissing fraternal guilds.

In my running days — way back when — a prominent Olympian with the best of running pedigrees coached me. Headstrong and prone to that running junky high, I had at least enough insight to recognize I needed the objectivity of two eyes outside my own head to judge my readiness and rein me in — so as to peak climactically end of season, maximuzing that anaerobic finishing kick breaking the tape ahead of the one whose spirit I crushed pulling away split seconds before.

Age and experience still haven’t wiped away all surprise: it took no great feat of reasoning for me, at 32, to conclude an extra set of eyes in practice could enhance race-day performance. What surprised me this evening was the divorce of IQ from Emotional IQ. Notably in this particular instance, parallax was triangulated meant negative ROI on Survival Quotient.

Say the inferior athlete lacks the superior one’s objective gauge for breath, heart rate and stride. But imagine a second signal system, the Emotional Intelligence assessing the certainty and dominant attitude of the other, such that the one who cannot conceive the other’s objectively superior performance factors nonetheless drops back before it is too late.

Too late? you ask. What in the world must I mean? you ask. Suppose emotional intelligence counters the failure of objective self-assessment like a second eye in the same plane allowing parallax and triangulation?The athlete with a balance of emotional intelligence may not know from objective measures that she is inferior but still, based on the confidant and triumphalist advance of the other, exercises caution and reduces pace, coincidentally delaying painful anaerobic burn until later in the race.

Advancing, let’s just say that athlete who reads signals mid-race and adjusts pace actualizes a combination of the objective gauge — paradoxically limited by experiential and perceptul blinders– and Emotional Intelligence. The athlete who best able to interpolate these, pulling back, preserves aerobic performance, saving the best for last — that final 100 m kick, the actualized Survival Quotient given initial allotment of potentials.

In the corporate world, when that initial 6-month performance review rolls around the bend, I see my staff similarly arrayed. Some, from naive overconfidence never deploy Emotional Intelligence. Nothing triggers accurate self-assessment. These individuals blow themselves up pointlessly before the end of the first mile.

I just encourage them to remove themselves from the course. Their antennae are dysfunctional and operating in an alien context. When IQ and Emotional Intelligence set up their parallax for this individual, the mismatch of competence and conception yield negative ROI for Survival Quotient.

And, another one bites the dust.