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Disney Brings EQ to the Big Screen


Character's Emotional Growth Part of Film's Metaphorical Journey. We can’t experience true joy until we’ve experienced true sadness. This is when we learn empathy, the pathway to emotional maturity. This is the main lesson in Pixar’s newest film, "Inside Out," which is set within the mind of an 11-year-old girl, Riley. Five emotions — personified as the main characters — run the switchboard that is Riley’s mind.

The character Sadness, in particular, is constantly at odds with the main character, Joy. Joy goes out of her way to ensure Sadness doesn’t control the switchboard or touches Riley’s library of core memories.

The entire movie is a metaphorical journey that culminates with the lesson of Joy and Sadness realising they must work together for the sake of Riley’s emotional growth.

Once this epiphany happens, 11-year old Riley is able to overcome a major emotional setback in her life, reconnect with her parents and make new friends.

Although the film doesn’t use this term specifically, Riley’s emotions working together provide an example of her becoming more emotional intelligent.

It showcases the role emotional intelligence (EQ) plays in the way we understand ourselves, understand others, and how we connect with one another.

If the people behind “Inside Out” produced a sequel, I bet we’d see a highly emotionally intelligent Riley, as a young adult, on the career path to leadership.

Drawing on lessons in her early teenage years, she would be deeply empathetic to the people she manages, able to control her moods and find ways to motivate others by building relationships.

The more emphasis we see in pop culture on understanding emotions — like this Pixar film has so brilliantly done — the easier it will be to have conversations about what it means to be emotionally intelligent in the workplace.

From there, we’d see more individuals working to strengthen their EQ to fast track themselves into a leadership position.




Jennifer Lawhead is the Communication Manager at TTI Success Insights, working to spread the word about the company's power to change lives. With a dual background in journalism and marketing, Jennifer has a penchant for storytelling, especially about career growth, continuous learning and being a woman in business.

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