“What can we change that will help our children fare better in life? What factors are at play, for example, when people of high IQ flounder and those of modest IQ do surprisingly well? I would argue that the difference quite often lies in the abilities called here emotional intelligence, which include self-control, zeal and persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself. And these skills, as we shall see, can be taught to children, giving them a better chance to use whatever intellectual potential the genetic lottery may have given them.
Beyond this possibility looms a pressing moral imperative. These are times when the fabric of society seems to unravel at ever-greater speed, when selfishness, violence, and a meanness of spirit seem to be rotting the goodness of our communal lives. Here the argument for the importance of emotional intelligence hinges on the link between sentiment, character, and moral instincts. There is growing evidence that fundamental ethical stances in life stem from underlying emotional capacities. For one, impulse is the medium of emotion; the seed of all impulse is a feeling bursting to express itself in action. Those who are at the mercy of impulse — who lack self-control — suffer a moral deficiency: The ability to control impulse is the base of will and character. By the same token, the root of altruism lies in empathy, the ability to read emotions in others; lacking a sense of another’s need or despair, there is no caring. And if there are any two moral stances that our times call for, they are precisely these, self-restraint and compassion.”
Taken from Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, pages xi and xii, Bantam Books, published in 1995.
About Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.
Daniel Goleman covers the behavioral and brain sciences for The New York Times and his articles appear throughout the world in syndication. He has taught at Harvard (where he received his Ph.D.) and was formerly senior editor at Psychology Today. His previous books include Vital Lies, Simple Truths, The Meditative Mind and The Creative Spirit.