Weather Forecast


The importance of social and emotional intelligence: Becoming our Top 20 selves

Alison Medeck

The Brainerd lakes area community is having many important conversations around creating healthy initiatives.

One important topic we need to include is our general social-emotional health. What skills and tools do we have that allow us to be most effective? How do we even know what that looks like? How many of us are even aware of this concept?

Think back to your K-12 school experience. Most of the curriculum is based on core academics—reading, math, science, social studies—which are all important, however, one glaring piece of curriculum that needs to be addressed in our current educational system, our families and our community is healthy social-emotional skills. We see many examples in our schools and communities that value the development of these life skills we will use EVERYDAY just as we do academic subjects.

During my 14-year career as a licensed school counselor, I have experienced the positive impact of social-emotional awareness working with students in the Brainerd School District, as well as parents, staff and community members. With greater social-emotional skills, you intentionally create better and healthier experiences with friends, co-workers, family members, and most importantly, yourself.

We spend most of our lives inside the six-inch space between our ears, so it makes sense for us to pay attention to developing healthy thinking, learning, and communicating habits. You and I use our thinking every single day and in order to be effective we need to make sure we are aware if it's working in our best interest or not. It is exciting to see more and more schools, businesses, and communities are recognizing these important skills that support health and wellness leading to better experiences at work, at home, and in our social lives.

Once we have this awareness, we have the power to choose how we handle challenges that come our way more effectively.

Becoming our Top 20 Selves focuses on the importance of Social and Emotional Intelligence. Sometimes our inside life is effective, which we call being our "Top 20" selves. Sometimes our Social and Emotional life is ineffective, which we refer to as our "Bottom 80" selves. Both are natural and normal parts of the human experience. Top 20 Training is a focus on developing awareness and skills in order to be our most effective selves by how we think, learn, and communicate, providing simple, yet powerful concepts; exercises and materials to rebalance thinking at the most basic level. Tapping into the insights of social-emotional training, Top 20 Training helps bring out the best in individuals, families, teams and organizations, so that all can reach their highest potential and make a positive difference in the quality of their lives, relationships, and experiences.

The organization, which is located in St. Paul, states, "Top 20's primary goal is to revolutionize education in America by helping students become more engaged in school and providing teachers with a new way of seeing themselves as relevant educators in the 21st century.

In addition, because it uses common language, easily understood concepts and practical tools for dealing with everyday situations and problems, Top 20 can have a profoundly positive effect on any organization, from business to government to healthcare, enhancing relationships and experiences for all."

To learn more about Top 20 Training, everyone is invited to attend the next Crow Wing Energized Mental Fitness Goal Group meeting 9-10:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center in the Thabes 1 meeting room. Medeck will present a Top 20 Overview, followed by Make It OK.


By Alison Medeck. Medeck has been a licensed school counselor for 14 years. She’s a member of the Top 20 Training team, using her experience to train others in schools, businesses and organizations. She and her husband, Greg, have three children and live in Brainerd.