How do you respond under pressure? If you tend to have an emotional reaction to challenging situations, you'll find that it overrides your objectivity. It's difficult to think reasonably and to problem-solve effectively when your emotions take charge. We all know how damaging stress is to our health; it's also damaging to business and everyone connected to us.

Your negative emotions can dictate how you live your personal life and manage your business. They will certainly limit your ability to motivate and inspire others. That's why successful leaders manage their stress and build resilience by developing high levels of emotional intelligence. Yes, EQ can be developed, but it's not done overnight. 

Following the example of leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence, and therefore success, here are some of the ways you can raise your EQ and lower your stress.

Recognize your emotions.

Studies show that those with higher levels of emotional intelligence are more resilient, therefore, less likely to burn out or succumb to depression. However, don't confuse resiliency with a lack of empathy or emotion. Learning self-regulation and self-management does not mean that you won't experience anger and other difficult responses. It means that you don't allow your actions to be driven by those emotions.

Journaling, speaking with a coach and/or therapist, exercise, and meditation are all a great means to understand, cope with, and transform limiting thoughts and emotions. 

Know what triggers you.

You'll be better equipped to deal with a challenging situation if you know exactly what about it triggers your stress response. It's like getting comfortable enough with your fear of heights to go to your favorite rooftop bar. You may begin by staying away from the edge, but as you work on your self-growth, you'll eventually conquer the fear altogether.

Don't demand perfection of yourself or others.

A sense of inevitable failure will always haunt you if you seek perfection because it simply does not exist. Whatever product or service you offer will never be perfect. A smart leader knows that everything he or she creates needs to be built to evolve and grow over time. A great business model and everything that fits within it is fluid rather than perfectly fixed.

Ditch the need for instant gratification.

Enjoying a fabulous meal is great for instant gratification, but there is nothing instant involved in delivering on a project. The anticipation of success, growth, and sharing your wins with the team is what shows cognitive competence and maturity, two measurements of EQ. Remember, good things are worth the wait, and also worth the attention to detail and the patience it takes to build something magnificent.

Learn the art of cognitive reframing.

Reframing what you perceive to be a problem or negative situation will allow you to manage whatever life hands you. When you view problems as opportunities and/or challenges it engages you, rather than deflates you. Let's say a client gives you feedback that triggers your negative emotions. Your tendency may be to categorize it as a complete failure. Learn to reframe your thoughts and see it from a different perspective. "I have some more work to do," feels better than, "I failed completely." A truly optimistic individual may even say, "I've learned more about what they want and now I get to take this project from good (or not so good) to great." And, don't forget to add a little humor here and there. It's a powerful tool in the reframing process.

Know what you're good at, and what you should stay away from.

Great managers and entrepreneurs stick to using their rock star qualities and skills, they don't let their weaknesses hold them back. Startup and solo entrepreneurs aren't always great about this because they believe they can't afford help, so they stress themselves out by doing everything themselves. The problem is that it takes a ridiculous amount of time to perform tasks when you don't have the necessary skills to tackle them (or, you hate doing them). Don't struggle in this pattern for years. Have faith in yourself and find the means to hire someone sooner rather than later. Then, immediately invest all of that time into your growth strategy.

Process your mistakes, then store them away.

Emotionally intelligent leaders recognize their mistakes, but they don't dwell on them. Figure out what you can learn from things that don't go as intended and use the knowledge to adapt for future success. Forgiving doesn't mean forgetting entirely. Store those mistake and lessons learned at a safe distance, accessible enough to refer to when they can be useful. 

If your company is not growing at a reasonable pace, you may have some work to do in the emotional intelligence department. This is actually good news, since emotional can be learned and developed. Studying the power of your own thoughts gives you much more control over your future. EQ has an extremely high impact on everything you do, so as you grow everything around you grows with you.