What You Don’t Know is Hurting You – A Book Recommendation

The depths of human consciousness are fascinating, and because of that, it is important to balance our thirst for awareness and spiritual knowledge with the other aspects of life.


It is a common belief that a spiritual life and a life engaged with the material world are incompatible, and that you must choose one over the other. However, this belief seems to rely on a lot of assumptions, such as ‘money necessarily corrupts or is dirty’, ‘the material world only leads to attachments, which are impediments to spiritual growth’, or ‘to be truly spiritual I have to leave any material interests behind”.


We are researching ways of living that allow us to peacefully and meaningfully integrate the two extremes of the spirituality-materialism spectrum while remaining engaged with and relevant to a 21st century world and its possibilities. We are doing this mainly through Integral Theory and the LIP (Living through Integral Practice) model.


In this article we will discuss how to healthily relate to our career by presenting the book What You Don’t Know Is Hurting You by Marion E. Brooks. A career need not be restricted to the corporate world, and for practical reasons we now refer to an occupation that we undertake in which we have the desire for growth and success. Although this book largely presents corporate situations, it shares insights that can be applied on any professional level, and on the personal level, too.


The author took these insights from his own life journey. Having started off from a family without possibilities in a poor area of Texas, he is now an internationally certified executive coach, a global leader, entrepreneur, and corporate executive with twenty years of experience building and leading award-winning teams in the pharmaceutical industry. He unpacks the recipe for success in digestible steps and combines them with insights and wisdom he received from his family and mentors.


The main structure of his book is built around four principles (“The Four P’s”), which he identified that when applied effectively, through actual work, they help accelerate people’s careers and personal success. These principles are Performance, Perceptions, Positioning, and Persistence.


I.     Performance


Here, the impact of EQ (Emotional Quotient) is discussed in comparison with that of IQ (Intelligence Quotient). In short, although historically there was placed a lot of importance on someone’s IQ, modern research shows that it only accounts to 20-30% of a leader’s success.


Emotional Intelligence, on the other hand, is now viewed as the strongest predictor of success in a person’s career. According to Daniel Goleman, the author who popularized the term through his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, EQ is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships.


In short, the main idea presented in this chapter is that IQ gets you hired, but EQ gets you promoted.  There are several studies quoted analyzing why qualified people aren’t getting promoted in the workplace, and the first three reasons are the lack of social skills, the inability to take criticism, and the lack of motivation to keep learning, most of which are related to emotional intelligence.


IQ only varies slightly with education and experience, while EQ can be learned. An insightful four-quadrant model for understanding EQ is presented for better understanding EQ.


The Four Quadrants of the Emotional Competencies Model


  •       Self-awareness means understanding yourself and your emotions

–       Self-awareness is the bedrock of EQ (≠self-criticism)

–       Understand the triggers which drive you from productive to unproductive

–       If you lack self-awareness, your emotions tend to control the situation and you may negatively react to situations which aren’t even personal

–       If you are always feeling the victim of people and situations, it’s a good idea to take a closer look into this aspect

  •       Self-management means managing yourself and your emotions

–       It’s one thing to understand your emotions, and quite another to be able to exhibits control over yourself, especially in trigger situations

  •       Social awareness means understanding others and their emotions

–       Being able to understand and respond to the needs of others

  •       Relationship management refers to managing [the interactions with] others

–       Involves clear communication and effective and constructive handling of conflict

–       Building and maintaining healthy relationships to help you become more productive and impactful

–       “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in what they do, than you can make in two years by trying to get other people interested in you” (Dale Carnegie)


A key aspect to understand related to this model is balance, because almost never is anyone a high achiever in all of them all the time. Brooks writes: “Emotional intelligence is predicated upon leveraging your self-awareness and the awareness of your environment in order to stay focused and to accomplish your objectives and goals.”


A very powerful advice he gives is that “if you’re going to be a leader, then you’re going to have to be able to understand what you’re projecting, not just what you’re saying”. He gives examples of situations in which he unintentionally transmitted messages about himself through his body language or by not saying the right things at the right time that were in this way impeding him to advance towards his goals.


Another valuable insight shared in this book is the comparison between allowing our amygdala to react to negative situations or becoming aware of ourselves and activating our prefrontal cortex in the heat of the moment. The amygdala is the part of our brain managing the flight-or-flight conditioning, negative emotions, and emotional learning. The fight-or-flight mechanism might have worked well for cave people or people going through war or very dangerous situations, but usually at work or in our day-to-day lives there is no need for this response. When we enter this amygdala hijack, not only do we lose control over ourselves, but we also lose approximately 20 IQ points. In this situation, we have given up control to the other person by giving them the upper hand in such situations.


So how can we activate our prefrontal cortex and choose the best option instead of reacting based on primitive emotions? The prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain where complex thinking and problem solving occur. Its main activity is considered to be the arrangement of thoughts and actions in accordance with our internal goals.

Some steps that we can take towards activating it is to learn not to take anything personally and to understand that the other person is acting towards their interests, and not against yours. This then makes it easier to start working towards a common goal, instead of, for example, becoming offended that they are not taking your ideas into consideration. When you’re feeling a trigger, pause – take a deep breath, listen to the other person in order to understand their intention. Think instead of react. A good exercise which he proposes for activating the prefrontal cortex in a trigger situation is the following:

1.     What am I feeling? (attacked, disrespected, overlooked, ignored, discounted,…)

2.     Ok, I’m feeling X, but why? (I am afraid I might look bad, they will think they will get over me, they are taking advantage of me,…)

3.     What can I do to stay in the moment and in control? (How do I communicate directly and show empathy for their point of view? What are they saying that I can agree with and build on to put us back on topic?)


This process gives you space to realize that you’ve taken what’s being said too personal, when the other person is just trying to assert or defend something based on their own experience and background.


Brooks also recommends a book called The Four Agreements, written by Don Miguel Ruiz, which is based on ancient teachings and wisdom aiming to shape a modern exploration of freedom and success. The four agreements are:

1.     Be impeccable with your word

2.     Don’t take anything personally

3.     Don’t make assumptions

4.     Always do your best


“A key marker of an emotionally intelligent person is the ability to identify alternative ways to achieve their objective with a win-win outcome in mind.”


II.     Perception


How we are perceived by the others greatly impacts what is going to happen to our career. Brooks says that you can be the most hard-working and loyal employee and still not be perceived that way. He gives some examples of Ivy League educated people with very high IQ who either remained stuck in a position, or who arrived in leading roles in which they failed because of their lack of EQ and leading capabilities. Dr. Maya Angelou says that “people will forget what you said, what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.


A good idea is to start looking into how you perceive yourself, before looking into how others perceive you. It might be desirable to change the way you perceive yourself and make it match with how you wish others to perceive you.


Another important aspect related to the way you are perceived is the fact that 90% of the decisions made about you and your career are made when you are not in the room (managers and bosses in their meetings or clients deciding if they will return to you). This is why it is important to think about and build a personal brand that will send out the message you want those people to receive. Some key questions to help you do this are:


1.     What are you known for?

2.     What do people say or think when your name is mentioned?

3.     What are your strengths?

4.     What are your areas of opportunity?

This way, you can start taking conscious action in making people aware of you in the light that you want. To start, think about:


1.     How do you show up (wardrobe, hairstyle, how you express yourself, how you walk, sit etc.)? See if they match with who you want to become.

– if you want a new position or want to be seen in a new way, see how you can show up to fit with your new brand

2.     How much confidence do you exude when you walk into a room or meeting?

3.     Try to describe your current brand in three adjectives, and then your ideal brand in three adjectives. How would you change the way you show up to match your ideal brand?


The way you communicate is a great part of the way you are perceived. There are three main components of effective communication, and people often wrongly assume which one is the most important:

–       the content (the spoken words) make up just 7% of effectiveness

–       the voice (tone, inflection, etc.) make up 38%

–       the visual aspect (body language, appearance) make up the majority of 55%


Usually, people mistakenly assign the majority to the actual content.


“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation”.


Developing a confidence ritual before you enter a meeting room or meet with clients can help you set up for success or put you easily back on track fi you are feeling nervous. Some steps are striking a power-pose in the mirror, walking with power, positive self-talk, confident posture, and being organized.



III.     Positioning


If you want to advance in your career, it is important to understand your place in your company or in your field. Three components to effective positioning are creating a career or developmental plan, engaging others into your plan (finding mentors and sponsors to guide you, give you feedback, and promote you), and growing your network.

1.     Understand the structure and hierarchy of your organization,

2.     Usually, people hire people they know, so you must position yourself effectively.

3.     Focus your goals and the way you show up based on your current position and the position you aspire to be

4.     It’s not always about getting to the next level, but getting to the next level of proficiency, or building a new skillset.

5.     Work with you manager, find mentors and work with them, or an executive coach to build a developmental plan for your career.

Research has shown that our annual income will be the average of the five people we spend the most time with, so if we want to aspire high, it is important to start connecting with people who are aspiring high. This does not mean to have only friendships based on interest or to immediately end old friendships, it just means to expand our network towards people with interests similar to those interest we wish to cultivate.



IV.     Persistence

“Plans are nothing. Planning is everything” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

Persistence is the opposite of being a victim. Setbacks are always going to happen, yet persistent people know how to face them, learn from them, and turn them into part of their way to success.


“I never lose. I either win, or learn” – Nelson Mandela


An inspiring book full of insights which are indeed inspired by ancient wisdom, we recommend it to anyone wishing to improve their personal and/or professional level. What made me recommend this book is the way Brooks extendedly talks about the importance of being in service of others, searching to give back what we receive, and aiming to make the world a better place.





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