Skills are essential, and some skills are absolutely essential.  Successful living demands them.  Out of the many skills, if you asked me to give you just one, I would pick…

The Skill of Mastering Your Moods.

There are other great skills, but without this one, happiness and contentment will elude you – no matter how much money you have or don’t have, and no matter how much you are loved by others.  This one skill will get you out ahead of the competition.  It leads to less stress and a happier existence.  It is the key to success on your job, with your relationships, or in your role as a parent or coach or student.

Without the ability to harness my emotions, the other important skills are at best, weakened, and at worst, neutralized.

This skill falls into the category of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).  Our Cognitive Intelligence (IQ), is pretty much fixed and unchangeable.  The good news is that our emotional intelligence quotient can be nurtured and developed.  This is strongly backed by scientific research based on tests and measurements.

Along with this skill are 2 habits that help develop it.  All good skills are born out of habits.  Habits are something you do over and over again.  And repetition is the mother of skill(s).  Here is what I know – successful people develop habits that unsuccessful people are unwilling to develop.

Mastering your moods is the most important skill – and the hardest one to master.  Why?  Because you are a lot like me.  You’ve known “what to do, “how to do it”, “that you ought to do it”, — but you didn’t do it!  We prove to ourselves over and over again that best intentions aren’t good enough.  You intended to establish your goals, set that schedule, clarify your values, discover your strengths, lose that weight, start that exercise program – but you haven’t.

When you say, “I’ll do it later”, what you’re really saying is “I don’t feel like doing it.” And here’s the point: you let your moods master you rather than you mastering your moods. 

Here are 2 habits that both deepen and develop this skill.

1.    The habit of acting before feeling.  Feelings come, but we must act first.  In fact motion creates moods.  The root word for emotion is the word motion.  Motion creates emotion.  Motion creates feeling.  The utter lack of motion is the definition of death.  There is no feeling, only rigidity.  You can change your moods by breathing, posture, facial expressions, physical activity – in other words – by movement.

My point: It’s easier to act your way into a feeling than it is to feel your way into an action.

You might not feel like being romantic, or exercising, or preparing for that event, but as you act on these things the feelings will follow.  (I didn’t feel like writing this blog, but as I started the process my mood began to change).

The habit of acting before feeling will develop the skill of mood-mastery.

 2.    The habit of self-affirmation.  Why is this important?  Because most people degrade themselves.  I play golf – a sport that’s easy for self-degradation!  Several years ago I had a golf caddie say, “Mick, you need to learn to caddie yourself.”  He said, “If I talked to you the way you talk to yourself, you’d fire me!”  He was right!  And therein lies a deeper lesson.

We are subconsciously very hard on ourselves.  Negative self-talk and limiting beliefs are related, and they impact our ability to master our moods.   Moods are created by what we focus on.  What we think determines the way we feel, which impacts the way we act.  The quickest way to change your moods is not only to change your actions, but to also change your thinking.  Affirmation is simply choosing what you will focus on.  Instead of letting other people or circumstances decide what you will focus on, you constantly choose.  What are the truths that will help you focus on what you want your life to be?

Studies show that most people degrade themselves.  Self-talk can be affirming or asphyxiating.

Do you want to go higher, faster?  Grow this skill of mood-mastery by acting before feeling and self-affirmation.

P.S. I recently spoke at the SoCal Jobs & Career Summit 2014.  In this 11 minute talk (see video above) I share the importance of this skill in going higher, faster!  Enjoy.