blueoceanEmotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. It can be divided into ability EI and trait EI. Criticisms have centered on whether EI is a real intelligence and whether it has incremental validity over IQ and the Big Five personality traits, which are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, sometimes referred to as OCEAN.

Isn’t that last paragraph a lot of words? Frankly, I am not a psychiatrist/psychologist or crazy. Sometimes those two boundaries tend to cross-pollinate, I can assure you. I do believe that any study of the mind has to do with one important term, “Context.” For just as one man’s ceiling is another’s floor, one man’s heaven can be another’s hell.  Why?  Context.

Ask the silver spoon preppie what stresses him or her out. Then ask some peasant from Kabul, Afghanistan. Test them for EI or OCEAN and I guarantee that the tests will skew toward the paradigms of the designer of the test. Wasn’t this been the great debate regarding IQ test for decades?

However, now let’s look at another great business concept, “Blue Ocean Strategy,” which suggests that an organization should create new demand in an uncontested market space, or a “Blue Ocean”, rather than compete head-to-head with other suppliers in an existing industry.  This book was published in 2005. History actually repeats itself, because Edward De Bono wrote a book entitled “Surpetition” about creating new playing fields back in 1992, but I digress.

My point is that when it comes to ANY individual, the key to growing in life is to understand your personality traits as they exist within your OWN particular universe and adapt to be the unique individual you deserve to be. Why is this so important? Because the society in which you live can only tolerate or understand so much within a given generation. For example, Martin Luther King died for his cause, a cause that a large segment of the culture surrounding him didn’t understand.  What about the Shah of Iran who was overthrown because he tried too hard and too fast to westernize an Islamic society?  Today there are tribes within Africa that utilize sex doctors to “purify” divorced and widowed women in the tribe, and in turn give each of them AIDS.  Is it right, wrong, or just plain ignorant? What matters is that it is taking decades to change the culture.

Context. I suggest that for you to be an individual you MUST know the culture in which you live as much as know yourself. Your BLUE OCEAN EQ STRATEGY is one where you differentiate yourself to be singular yet accepted; non-conformist yet acknowledged; unique yet respected. The net result can vary from leadership to fame to anonymity, but certainly, in each case, individuality.



There is only one difference between “keeping up with the Jones’” from early America through pre-Internet days to the inundated world of noise that we live in today. Thanks to social media, you are constantly reminded of your inadequacies thanks to Facebook postings, Twitter, YouTube, and reality TV.  How does all of this clutter affect your happiness?

Happiness is choice you make from within regardless of external stimuli.  However, this is easier said than done.  When you are constantly reminded of other’s greatness or read the tabloids that canonize celebrities, it’s easy to question your own significance.  The Time Magazine July 8, 2013 article on Happiness reports that 37% of women and 21% of men feel worse after comparing themselves with others on social media.

Add to this the fact that in typical half-hour news show there are 8 minutes of ads that pitch false realities to you about how you could lead a healthier, sexier, more glamorous, richer life.  Of the remaining 22 minutes, nearly five minutes are spent in previews of “what’s coming.” Therefore, there are only 17 minutes of actual news, if you consider a reporter shoving a microphone into a victim’s face after a tragedy and asking them “how do you feel?” is really news. TV stations can’t sell ads without sensationalism.

So what’s the anecdote?  I’d love to give you the silver bullet, but each individual leads his or her individual pathway in life. No two are exactly the same.  Here are well-known axioms:

  1. “Know thyself” – Plato
  2. “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” – Alexander Pope
  3. “To thy own self be true.” – Shakespeare
  4. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” – God
  5. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

I’m being careful not to preach, but the above axioms are universal.  Happiness is finding the silver lining in each and every day.  I submit that several lifetimes ago when news was delivered by the Pony Express, the same percentage of people reacted negatively to some news as do today. Celebrate the successes of others, but be grateful for your own life and the message and challenges that it delivers to you. It’s the human experience.  In poker, it’s not about the hand you’re dealt, but how you play it.


Do your homework! Please read the July 8 issue of Time Magazine for countless pearls of wisdom.  No, I’m serious.  I just read the best article in decades on the current state of happiness. It will be well worth your time, and healthy for America.

I’ll be covering different facets of this article, and applying it to relationships among other things. But as this is the week of July Fourth celebrations, I will concentrate on happiness in America. The article begins with the quote, “If you’re an American and you’re not having fun, it just might be your own fault.” In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson boldly wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Rarely is a government founded upon these principles. The true measure of our government is to defend these truths. Yet throughout American history, our founding forefather’s dreams of a land with unparalleled opportunities have been as abundant as the resources available in this rich land. However, dreams are not guarantees. Nor is happiness.

I’d like you to think about some amazing statistics about the world of happiness:

  1. In ravaged Afghanistan, a 2012 survey revealed that three times as many people said that they were happy as said they were unhappy.
  2. Singapore has one of the highest per capita GDP’s in the world, a low unemployment rate, and a superior education system, yet it is home to the world’s least positive-minded population.
  3. Debt-laden Ireland faces a gloomy economic future, yet its population as among the cheeriest on the planet.
  4. Despite a prior economic malaise and brutal winters, the people of Iceland have one of the closest social networks in the world, thus a happy life.
  5. Mexicans boast higher-than-average levels of happiness despite enduring a long-running drug war that has cost thousands of lives every year.
  6. Canadians score significantly higher than Americans in their balance of life, even though they make considerably less money.
  7. Panama reports very high levels of happiness, although almost a third of the population lives below the poverty line.

There are many, many explanations for each of these statistics. I would offer to you that the KEY reason for an individual’s happiness is to remember that happiness is a choice. Regardless of your lot in life, in most cases, it’s how you play the hand that you were dealt.  And as we celebrate Independence Day, remember that you, too, can lead a life independent of negativity within your own mind. Our forefathers laid the framework, but the work depends upon the individual.

America fights fiercely for the right to choice, but often in the pursuit of dreams individuals sometime forget to appreciate what he or she has, and thus feel “unsatisfied.” Happiness is a choice, each and every day.  Let’s promise ourselves to celebrate a truly happy birthday for America. By doing so, we will collectively be only America the great, but also America the grateful.