Priorities

Individual priorities arise when the real world challenges our mental model, worldview, and/or basic needs. Each of us decides how, by what means, and to what extent we will select and pursue our priorities. Only when I acknowledge my own objectives and affirm those of others can I build and maintain relationships. Such relationships structure the situations that limit or grow power. So justice, fairness, and success come from blending our priorities with those of others. That each of us must depend on others to achieve our priorities is usually clear. However, to the extent that we fail to learn from our own experience or deny other persons’ experience or assume everyone has the same priorities, we cannot build durable relationships.

An individual, facing impending change, will respond according to the expected impact on his or her values and priorities. Relationships have elements of power. Justice, fairness, and success in terms of your personal values and priorities comes of meeting your expectations. What we value and how we set and pursue priorities, will vary according to what some call our Emotional Intelligence (EI). One indicator of Emotional Intelligence in children is the ability to postpone gratification, which requires comparing near-term with longer-range priorities to choose wisely. Maturity and experience will cause us to consider others when making a choice.

As a concept EI builds on what, in 1920, E.L. Thorndike identified as "social intelligence." Thorndike defined social intelligence as "the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls -- to act wisely in human relations." In the late twentieth century, Goleman added self-awareness to social intelligence and he popularized the notion of teaching EI. While most authors treat EI as a self-help concept, we are concerned here with your ability to achieve success in politics. Josh Freedman wrote: “Emotional intelligence is the inner capacities that let us create optimal relationships with ourselves and others. The skills include using thoughts, feelings, and actions to build self-knowledge, self-management, and self-direction.”

To turn self-awareness into action requires not only that you have empathy for the values and priorities of others but also that you understand your own worldview, values and priorities. Self-awareness extends to a person's understanding of his or her values and priorities. Someone who is highly self-aware knows where he is headed and why; so, for example, he will be able to be firm in turning down a job offer that is tempting financially but does not fit with his principles or long-term priorities. A person who lacks self-awareness is apt to make decisions that bring on inner turmoil by treading on buried values. "The money looked good so I signed on," someone might say two years into a job, "but the work means so little to me that I'm constantly bored." The decisions of self-aware people mesh with their values; consequently, they often find work to be energizing—Daniel Goleman.