Emotional intelligence, Broadway-style

As I dive into a new musical theater role, (The Chairman in The Mystery of Edwin Drood), for a summer production at The Skinner Barn, I’m reminded that one doesn’t have to look far in popular culture for amusing and sometimes powerful examples of good emotional intelligence. Song lyrics, movie and television scripts and characters from theater scripts and novels can offer lasting examples and insight into the human condition. The Beatles are one of the most universally known and loved groups in history. As I started to write this, Let It Be popped into my head as a simple and accessible path to good advice.

My character in Drood this summer leads a song called Off to the Races. I’ve begun to refer to it as an EQT (emotional intelligence tune). An example from the first verse:

Quick conclusions often lead the best of us astray
The wisest move in life is just to wait.
Otherwise our galloping emotions run away
Like horses at the gate!

Good, simple advice couched in theater entertainment!

The four domains of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness and relationship building. The more I look at pop culture with EQ in mind, the more examples I see of good advice and cautionary tales. One of my coaching instructors at NYU used powerful video clips to show both poor and excellent examples of EQ. Check out this clip of Ronald Reagan’s State-Of-The-Union address right after the Challenger shuttle disaster. No matter what your politics, it shows high social awareness being put to use by a master communicator. He speaks to our sense of national values and unity, to all age groups in our extended tribe - his compassion and humanity are clearly evident and expressed, and he meets an important national need of the moment; to make sense of a tragic event and what it means to our nation. It’s hard to view this clip cynically no matter what your political view was of the man.

Ronald Reagan addresses the Challenger Disaster