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Life beyond IQ: Emotional intelligence and leadership explored

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MUSCAT: Is life just about Intellectual Quotient (IQ), or is there something more that can define success in life? Dr Virat Chirania, an author and meditation teacher at the Art of Living Foundation and TEDx speaker, began his career journey as an engineer in the IT field in the US with a high-paying job when he came across a meditation class. What he discovered made him become an author and a meditation teacher and take a PhD in Emotional Intelligence.

If accumulating wealth was an essential factor in the past, now he is intrigued by the thoughts that crossed his mind.

“The more I meditated, the more I took the advanced programmes. The more I read the ancient scriptures, I realised this is not a modern concept; instead, saints have been talking about it for thousands of years,” Dr Virat said. This led him to do a PhD in Emotional Intelligence, connecting it with leadership qualities.

He explained, “I saw that an increase in Emotional Intelligence increases one’s leadership ability. There is a strong connection between these two. That is where the journey started about 20 years ago for me. In terms of practical Emotional Intelligence, not just a concept, I realised that when we meditate, Emotional Intelligence becomes higher.“

According to him, he was a typical left-sided brain, but now he is more balanced.

“I view life as a mixture of things we understand and learn from the intellect, things you need to experience and acknowledge that is beyond the intellect. I think intelligent people are the ones who truly understand this. So life is about what we know and the unknown X factor. Logic is important for sure, but to deny that there is a world beyond logic is being immature,” he reasoned.

Dr Virat has travelled to Iraq, Turkey, Singapore and the US in addition to different corners of India, from villages to big cities, educational institutions, the corporate world and social service projects teaching Emotional Intelligence and leadership.

So how is Emotional Intelligence linked with leadership?

He explained, “Leadership is about handling people, chaos, handling uncertainty. In fact, leadership is about leading only when there is uncertainty. Emotional Intelligence teaches us how to understand emotions in ourselves and relate to them, as well as understand emotions in other people and help regulate that.

“If you can do that by having these soft and abstract life skills, then chances of success are high. I think modern-day leadership is all about that. It is well-connected with emotions and intelligence,” he noted.

The concept of intelligence is also constantly changing.

“First, there was Intelligence Quotient (IQ), then it was Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and now there is the Spiritual Quotient (SQ). Life is definitely evolving, and we live in an uncertain world,” he said, adding that leaders today are the ones who can cope with the uncertainty. Emotional Intelligence is something that has an impact on a person at a personal level and a professional level.

“If you are not able to handle emotions, not able to be happy and do not have a sense of purpose, then you tend to look back at life with regret because there might be a success but not happiness. I think many leaders realise that it is not just about bank balance and stock value; it is also about a sense of purpose and an element of contentment without that it is not worth it,” he pointed out.

How can one develop a sense of purpose and recognise the inner call?

He explained that everyone has an inner voice, and it is just that the outside noise is so loud that it drowns the inside voice. He said that to listen to the inner voice, we need to learn the art of stilling the mind and to cut out the external noise. Then the inside voice is quite clear.

Only when the mind is quiet will we be able to ask the question, what can I do for society?

His message is to be part of the solution. “No one else can tell you about your purpose in life. You have to discover that yourself. Those who know will not tell you,” he reflected, adding that the journey is eternal. The journey continues until there is a body with a mind.

“But when I sleep every day, I sleep very content and happy knowing that I have lived my day to the fullest and doing what I believe adds value to the world given my resources and constraints. So the question to ask is: What am I doing adding to the world? Am I going to leave this place more beautiful, or am I just going to accumulate wealth and knowledge? If we are not asking this question, then we are living a minimal life, so this is a very important question.

Other questions are: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose for being here?


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