Plus an accounting of every penny she spent in the last years of her life. ) Yes, my mother would have been a terrific queen. Beloved by her subjects, I'm sure--as she was beloved by so many who knew her. Who could aspire to more than that? She was there for emotional support and, I assume, to remind me how dumb running a half marathon is. We made it to the running area and said our good-byes. That's when the first bad moment arrived. I had to pee. The bathroom situation at the starting area of the Chicago Half Marathon was somewhat atrocious. Just a ton of porta-potties and utter chaos. Nobody was happy. Everything smelled terrible. Not to mention, the sun wasn't even up yet and it was already about 50 percent humidity and in the mid-70s. This day was going to suck. At one meeting we had a major clash. I wanted us to design a world-class leadership programme, (get the best result possible) while she wanted to ensure we met the deadline (get an achievable result). She felt it would take too much time to get the highest quality outcome and we would miss the deadline, while I felt her desire to rush ahead would be a missed opportunity to offer something of real value. In the end the need to get something done by the deadline won - an understandable result in a business organisation. I'm convinced that if we had understood our respective styles and drives, we would have found ways to manage our conflict more constructively and probably got a better outcome for the organisation too.

A key part of emotional intelligence is being aware of and able to manage our emotions. But it is difficult to know what is going on in our own minds. Our unconscious drives our behaviour and we use our conscious minds to explain it to ourselves. Our conscious tries to make sense of our actions, thoughts and feelings, but often this is guesswork or rationalisation after the event. When we feel threatened, the unconscious reacts more quickly than our conscious, sometimes leading us to react in ways that we later wish we hadn't. When you're young, the future is so far away, and you don't know what will happen to you and the world. So when you're young, you have more worries than the elderly. But I don't worry now. Imagine that: to be free of the future, meaning the sum of all things that probably won't happen, minus the one that will, which is one's death. Even if just for a minute, the feeling is like that of first flight, weightless and free. Most of us live with this future every day, laboring under its weight. To think like an old person is to journey unencumbered. In the 1980s, a Swedish sociologist named Lars Tornstam was struck by the prevalence of people like Ping, who were contented in old age despite all they had lost. Like me, he discovered that they were easy to find. When he started interviewing them about their lives, they described changes in their values as they got older. But why insist, then, that she also be a talented mother? (It took me decades of psychoanalysis to get to this degree of perspective, by the way. And still today it pains me greatly even to speak these truths. For I loved her very much. But the truth must be faced.

) My father? He was equally adored in his many communities--and rightly so. Smart as a whip. Darkly handsome. Twelve thousand people had signed up to run the race, and they were all in front of me in the bathroom line. While I waited for an eternity to use the restroom, I thought about the horror stories around people, uh, losing their bathroom-holding abilities during long runs. Other than that one time during training, that had never been a problem for me. I was hoping today would be the same. (Is this foreshadowing? You'll have to keep reading to find out! ) All of us--more people than lived in my hometown, mind you--got corralled in different areas depending on the times we thought we would run the race in. Everyone around me was talking about how hot it was. People seemed concerned. We respond emotionally before our conscious mind can decide on a more emotionally intelligent reaction. Knowing about the styles makes us more aware of our emotions and better able to manage them. For each style there are some specific situations and interactions that might trigger unconscious emotional reactions. The table below shows the typical triggers for Synthesisers for negative emotions when interacting with others. Review the triggers for negative emotions and then think about your own behaviour

In what recent situations have you experienced these emotions? What did other people do or say that might have triggered your reaction? How did you respond? In what other ways could you have responded? What would be a more effective response if this situation were to recur? One was that they became more selective about how they spent their time and whom they spent it with. Mingling at cocktail parties or chatting up strangers no longer interested them. They weren't looking for new friends or networking for new contacts. Another was that they became less self-concerned, and more aware of being part of a larger whole. Instead of being lonely, they told him they valued having time alone for contemplation. While other social scientists scrambled to develop new ways for old people to keep busy, Tornstam coined the term gerotranscendence as a different way to think about old age: not as a period of decline but as a high point, when people transcend material concerns and focus instead on what's really valuable. The years leading up to old age, he reasoned, were preparation for this stage. In his surveys of people ages 74 to 104, asking how their values had changed since they were 50, nearly three-quarters agreed with the statement Today I am less interested in superficial social contacts, and two-thirds said, Today I have more delight in my inner world; 81 percent agreed with the statement Today material things mean less. They became more altruistic and more accepting that life included mysteries that they would never solve. Assertive. With a killer sense of humor. And a joy in life--music, food, horse racing, jazz. Also, well, you probably can guess - not cut out - He was in love with his work. That's where his true passion lay.

And he did fine work. Important work. He was a college president, for heaven's sake, and deeply respected. But he could not be my container. (Also, of course, there was the drinking. I didn't know any better, so I thought maybe they just had the pre-race willies. And then, after a brief countdown, we were off. I've got to be honest: The first few miles felt great. That part of Chicago is truly beautiful, and with the sun just coming out, it felt pretty bodacious to be surrounded by all these other people who were doing the same crazy thing as me--attempting to run 13. miles. Then we turned onto Lake Shore Drive and my whole world became pain. During my training, I mostly ran in neighborhoods. Where trees are. Where shade exists. Lake Shore Drive is a multilane roadway with no shade, next to the water, and just pure angry asphalt. It is not always straightforward to unpick what has triggered an emotional response, as it happens outside our conscious awareness. Jane wrote into a newspaper's employment advice column with a classic Synthesiser's problem: her contributions at meetings were ignored, someone else would make the same suggestion and be listened to, her completed work was not acknowledged and she found it difficult to get into the discussions while others talked over or interrupted each other. This was having a negative impact on her confidence and self-esteem. She was not having the opportunity to give her input or get credit for it - essential motivators for Synthesisers. The advice given by the columnist and readers included to lower the pitch of her voice, raise the volume, write down first what she wanted to say, and to speak calmly and continuously.