You’re Not What Happens To You: Teaching EQ Skills

I’ve heard the introduction to this CNN news story probably 100 times: I use this video as an introduction to my Personal Empowerment course and play it in each first-year extended orientation class I facilitate on emotional intelligence. There are a few lines I recall by heart:

“He looks out of place, you’d expect to see him sitting on the bench.”

“Porter for three, yeaaaa”


“He’s the prime example of…it’s not what happens to you; it’s how you react to it and how you deal with it that matters in life. “

I show this video early in my courses–and I try to get the students to relate what the coach says, “how you react” to something to their own lives. We also begin the process of changing our language from “react” (which they agree is more of a knee-jerk, unplanned action) to “response” (which sounds more informative, thoughtful, and intentional).

It’s really the foundation of our current Personal Empowerment course. The ability to see your actions as choices, both big and small. Each choice impacts something else. This is often something 18-23 year olds overlook.

This week, I’m traveling to Iowa to work with my counterpart at University of Dubuque, my trainers and Cy and Peggy Yusten, and am bringing an Area Director, Josh, from HWS to help shape a new curriculum that really focuses on students, young adults, and developing their ability to be emotionally intelligent. I’ve been stuck on this phrase, “An Emotionally Intelligent You” as the ultimate goal for this new program.

This week, I get to dive head first into creating this curriculum and table all of the other demands on my time. I’m most excited about what the future holds for our little three-course institute at the Colleges.


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© 2020 by Dr. Brandon Barile

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