About 3 years ago I moved back home to Syracuse after graduating from SUNY Buffalo, and working in the city of Buffalo for 6 years. There were several reasons I decided to move out of Buffalo, but I will honestly admit the “straw that broke the camel's back” for me was the winter we got 9 feet of snow in just a few days. The city was under a state of emergency, and travel was extremely limited (I did not go home for a total of two weeks.
Moving back to Syracuse was something I never imagined. Growing up on the city's South Side was rough and I recognized at an early age, job prospects would continue to go down because everyone I knew was saying “I / we can not wait to leave Syracuse.” As far as I knew everyone, and their mother wanted out. Needless to say I was not overly excited to go back to a place I felt was going downhill very fast at the time. Funny how we as human animals always think we have the answers, right?
A couple things happened almost immediately when I moved back to Syracuse that made me feel as though I was in the wrong for not wanting to come back to the place that I was born and raised. One, I was able to reestablish genuine connections with my immediate family members. So many times when I would come home to visit while living in Buffalo, everyone would say “we are all doing well” when in fact they were not. Being face-to-face frequently forced us to have what I like to call “benefit the surface” conversations. After being around someone for longer periods of time you get down to the root of their problems / wants / needs / desires, if you really pay attention. The second thing that happened was I met a young woman whom I felt had all of the qualities I wanted to start a committed relationship with. The final, most important thing was getting hired by Elmcrest Children's Center.
Working at Elmcrest has been both challenging, and fulfilling at the same time. Not only did I get to have an impact on the lives on adolescent young men on a daily basis, working at Elmcrest introduced me to a topic that is near and dear to my heart, Emotional Intelligence (EI). For those of you who are not familiar with the term Emotional Intelligence there are many definitions for the term but in its simplest form, it is your ability to recognize feelings that arise within you, managing those feeling and the impact they have on others. An example of someone with a high level of EI is someone who is able to sit down and have a conversation with another person what they dislike in an effort to come to an agreement / compromise. Now some of you may be thinking there's no way I could sit down and have a conversation with someone I do not like. ” sits down with President Trump is a fan of his? Did you think that former President Barack Obama liked all of the members of the GOP? What they did realize, through using EI is in order to get things done you have to sit down with people you are not fond of.
In politics they call it diplomacy, in marriage it is called picking and choosing your battles, when you are teaching it is called not dominating the conversation. I am sure you guys can come up with multiple names or logos but what it all boils down to is Emotional Intelligence (EI). Recognizing that you may not like a person or a situation, and still being able to maintain, progress, and / or move forward.
After a few months of working with at-risk adolescent young men at Elmcrest Children's Center I experienced my very first “ah ha” moment when it comes to EI, while working with a young man from Madison County who was struggling with the structure of our Cottage (he would throw furniture, break windows, break gaming consoles, you name it). A major component to EI is active listening, after conversing for some time with this young man, he finally said to me “dude do you know how annoying it is to wake up every day around all of these black people.” Shock does not begin to describe how I felt in that moment, but thanks to all of my training on EI the only words that came out of my mouth were “I can understand that this is a new environment for you and it might take some time to get adjusted, but we are all here to help ensure that you go home much better off than the way you arrived. ”
After that encounter with the young man I dedicated all of my free time to studying EI, so much so that it became second nature to me. Through dedicating my time reading, writing, and presenting on EI I noticed that many people are not familiar with Emotional Intelligence, and the things it can do for the relationships you have. I invite you, the reader to become familiar with EI for yourself and others. What would a world look like if we had people who could correctly identify how they felt, manage those feelings without losing control, and be able to have genuine empathy for our fellow human beings?