Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, EPISODE #202, with someone I’ve been wanting to speak with since the early days of launching our podcast. He’s a specialist on emotional intelligence, with connections that link him to Daniel Goleman’s[i] earliest work, as the CEO and one of the co-founders of Six Seconds[ii], the global community growing emotional intelligence that began in 1997, around the time I had my AHA Moment and realized how important these skills are for our students in the classroom. He’s an educator, author of 5 books, researcher and parent, who translates the latest neuroscience of emotion into practical insights we can all use to connect, solve problems, lead, and live better lives.
On this episode you will learn:
✔︎ What led Joshua Freedman, one of the leading experts of emotional intelligence in our schools and workplaces, to discover the SEL/Neuroscience connection in the late 1990s.
✔︎ How the 6Seconds.org SEL Model is different than ALL other models and why EVERYONE working with SEL must see this model.
✔︎ A simple 3 step approach to implement emotional intelligence in our lives, as well as our students in the classroom, or in the workplace.
✔︎ How to use our emotions as a guidance system and what to be aware of with certain emotions (like trust).
✔︎ How to get involved with 6Seconds.org with their FREE SEL resources, assessments, programs and services.
Before I introduce you to this week’s guest, I’ve got to say that for someone who has spearheaded the movement of EQ in our schools and workplaces for over 3 decades, his humble and kind nature will show you that he practices what he teaches.
Welcome back. I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding and applying the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. My vision is to bring the experts to you, share their books, resources, and ideas to help you to implement their proven strategies, whether you are a teacher working in the classroom or in the corporate environment.
Let’s get right into this topic, and meet this week’s guest, Joshua Freedman, the CEO of 6 Seconds, and dive into the field of emotional intelligence in our schools, sports and workplace environments. I know that after these questions, we will all look at “emotional intelligence” with a new lens.
Welcome Joshua, it’s wonderful to meet you after all the years I’ve followed your work.
Joshua, I don’t know if you know this, (or remember) as I know that you do many of these interviews, but when we first launched this podcast, I did reach out to you, and even had a spot on your calendar. You are the only interview to date that I wrote the week of, and said I needed more time to research you, because I didn’t feel fully prepared for the interview. Do you remember this by chance?
What happened—I usually read each person’s book and come up with some questions on how their work applies to the field of SEL and neuroscience, but when I began to research you, I saw that where your work began, and realized I needed to think about your questions as one of the leaders behind the movement of this field of emotional intelligence, to bring more meaning to today’s discussion and make sure I didn’t leave anything out. A sincere thank you for speaking with me today and letting me thoroughly prepare the questions for you so we can go deep into this topic of how to get results with emotional intelligence.
INTRO QUESTION: While researching your background, Joshua, I listened to some of your interviews[iii], and was surprised to see that your introduction to this field came in a similar way to mine. We were both first year teachers (you were at the Nueva Learning School in California in the early 1990s and I was a first-year teacher at Zion Middle School in Toronto 1996. Both of us felt overwhelmed with our experiences. Can you go back to your early days and think about what was missing back then? Why do you think we BOTH felt ill-equipped? And what’s different today with the tools we have available for success in the classroom or in the workplace?
Q1: This field has come a long way since we were both first year teachers. I know that over the years (like many others) we could see that these skills were important, and was always trying to push them forward (when I worked at Pearson Education I tried to put these skills into a software program that was designed for HS students, but I know the timing was off) or even when I was given grant funding to put the program I wrote into the schools in AZ and was told that for this field to gain traction, we need to include the science that backs the importance of these skills. I didn’t make the neuroscientific connection with SEL until an educator guided me in this direction, but you did. Can you tell us how you made this connection, with the meaning behind 6 Seconds (the name of your company that you founded in 1987?) making the connection between neuroscience and SEL?
Q1B: We launched this podcast with the goal to connect Neuroscience with SEL, diving into 6 SEL competencies that we chose that came from CASEL’s 5 [iv], plus Carol Dweck’s Mindset[v] work and we know how important IMPLEMENTING these competencies are. When I saw your 6 Seconds Model, it opened me up to how simple it can be to implement Emotional Intelligence skills. Can we dive into your 6 Seconds Model[vi] that at the core of your programs and look at how we can implement EQ with a practical example in our school, sports environments, or workplaces?
Andrea’s SEL Model (CASEL’s 5 Competencies plus Mindset) from Carol Dweck’s work.
6 Seconds EQ Model (Know Yourself, Choose Yourself, Giver Yourself), becoming more aware, more intentional and more purposeful to live a more fulfilled life.
Q1C: It’s funny because the other day, after listening to one of your interviews, where you were told this bad emotion you felt “just is” and when you accept what you are feeling, it gives you some sense of peace. I thought back to how many times when something happens in our household and I say, “its ok, it just is” a glass breaks “it’s ok, it just is.” Someone spills milk all of the floor, “it’s ok, it just is.” So, I asked my girls “do you remember me saying this when something like this happens?” And getting feedback from your kids is always eye opening. They said “yes, you do say this ALL the time, but your face looks mad while you are saying it.”
So, I’m still learning that to connect what I say with what I really feel to communicate authentically…and I really had no idea what I was saying wasn’t matching up with how I was feeling (because I honestly don’t care about the broken glass…but maybe the time to clean it up is what got me out of integrity…. now I can work on fixing this. How can we make sure that what we think and feel line up so that we can communicate what we intend to communicate?
This was actually the quote I picked out that opens up this episode
“We teach what we most need to learn.” Joshua Freedman
Q2: The importance of naming our emotions is something we uncovered from our earlier interviews with Dr. Daniel Siegel[vii] who said, “Name it to Tame it” and even with Marc Brackett from the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence with his book Permission to Feel.[viii] I never began looking at my emotions (beyond this makes me happy/this doesn’t) until in the neuroscience course I took, we studied neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp[ix] and his 7 emotional systems he believes to be present in each person’s brain. He said, “neuroscience is the only path to understanding how we feel” which makes me want to connect what we feel to our brain. Your career began when you identified the emotion of “feeling depressed” with your first classroom experience, that I connected to.
If you look at the table in the show notes that lists Panksepp’s 7 core emotional systems, where do you think that “feeling depressed” would sit on these 7 emotions, and where does “feeling depressed” show up in our brain?
Q3: What are some strategies for some of the most common ways people are feeling these days? When feeling low trust, how do you change that? When our work begins to feel meaningless, how do we bring it back to meaningful? What strategies do you find to be helpful for overcoming our bad feelings?
Q4: Since you have had the vision of this work for over 3 decades, what have you seen over the years since your early days, and do you think schools and workplaces are taking these skills seriously now, compared to your early days?
Q5: As we are coming to a close here, I want to be sure I haven’t left anything important out. Is there anything important that I haven’t asked you about?
Thank you very much Joshua, for speaking with me, and diving deeper into the Neuroscience behind our emotions. For those people who want to connect with you, I’ve put a link to your website and social media accounts in the show notes. Thank you for the work you are doing in this field, bringing more belief to the fact that our emotions are important guidance systems, that can help us to solve problems, connect with ourselves and others, and live a life with more meaning.