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Emotional Agility with Susan David

In April, Virgin Pulse proudly welcomed Dr. Susan David to the Virgin Pulse Science Advisory Board. Susan is a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School; an acclaimed psychologist, writer, and speaker; and a leading voice in the employee engagement space.

Her book, Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, is a #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling title, and was included in the Harvard Business Review as a “Management Idea of the Year.”

With good reason: emotional agility is an intriguing concept and has captured the imagination of leaders and employees alike. Here are three questions you need ask if you want to be up to speed on the business idea of the year:

What is emotional agility?

Outlining the concept, Susan explains: “The way we navigate our inner world – our everyday thoughts, emotions, and self-stories – is the single most important determinant of our life success.

“Emotional agility is the process that enables us to navigate life’s twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind.”

Is emotional agility different from grit?

Angela Duckworth’s concept of grit – the idea that perseverance is the single most important factor in success – gained traction in 2016.

Comparisons could be drawn with emotional agility. Though just as successful an idea, it is fundamentally different.

“Hard work is important,” Susan confirms. “But what I’ve learned in my years as an executive coach and psychologist at Harvard Medical School, and a researcher on emotions and thriving, is that this is hardly the end of the story.

“Answering question like, In sticking with this plan, what opportunities that I might find exciting interesting or important, am I passing up? Am I okay missing out on those?’ requires emotional agility. This means we can re-evaluate our goals and expectations in light of new information.”

How can I become emotionally agile?

The starting point is tapping into our emotions, according to Susan. “Notice when you’ve been hooked by your thoughts and feelings, she says. “There are certain telltale signs. One is that your thinking becomes rigid and repetitive.

“One strategy that may help you consider your situation more objectively is the simple act of labeling. This allows you to see thoughts and feelings for what they are: transient sources of data that may or may not prove helpful.”

Learn more about emotional agility.

Then develop healthy workplace habits, download the tip sheet, 5 ways to help employees build habits that matter.