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Trace the Face By Dr. Mark L. Vincent

Your Face and the Sculpting Journey in Emotional Intelligence

What changed in photographs of your face across the decades? We aren’t talking about fashion or hairstyles here. And it isn’t so much the aging process, either! What in your interior spirit comes through from underneath your skin?


In my youth and twenties, photographs show an intense gaze and perhaps a smirk because I was sure things would be better, could be better, because I was here and was earnest to do something significant.

Catch a photo of me from my thirties until my mid-fifties, and you will seldom see a smile, just a grin, often more like a grimace. We were giving our all to holding our family together during my wife’s long years of battling cancer. In that crush, my earnestness turned to grit, my gaze to a stare, and my wry sense of humor became far more sardonic (an excellent way of saying that a person cleverly expresses disdain or points to inconsistency).

And now? There is a far more consistent and total smile. The intensity of my gaze diminished into ease and perhaps a hint of an embrace. My humor is far more good-natured and rooted in peace. I am more capable of listening without needing to speak.

Over the years, I have been learning and growing. There is less of a protective membrane between myself and others. My inward condition is becoming a reflection of my outward demeanor. It is a sculpting work of the God who made me.


As you trace your portraits, what do you notice? What shape emerges over time? What might those who’ve walked with you over the years point out?

The growth of our emotional awareness and how it gets amplified on our faces can get stuck for many reasons, often rooted in pain and sorrow. We are driven so hard by our anguish that it is the only thing we think about, or we run away so hard that it becomes what we refuse to consider. Either way, it drives us! But through repeated self-reflection and articulation of our desires, emotions, and thoughts, we can discover our sticking points and begin moving into a new place beyond them. And God’s sculpting work will continue.

When we do, because we now see ourselves more honestly, we can perceive others more fully, not just the appearance of their face, but what longs to leak through from underneath. As we move more fully into ourselves, we become better, more tender, and more empathetic team members.


My humor is an example, perhaps one of the most noticeable “tells” in the portraits accompanying this blog post. As a young man, I used humor to be noticed: see how clever I am. Do you remember me being in the room and making a helpful contribution? In my middle decades, my humor distorted into a coping mechanism while living in a harrowing family circumstance. Now, humor is far more the joy of companionship and enjoyment of the day—today—in which you and I bring what we can to the excellent work we can do together. I have grown into this over time, passing through one stage to get to the other, not letting myself remain where I was.

The fruit of this journey, which is your journey, is why we keep growing and letting God continue sculpting.


Dr. Mark L. Vincent is the Founder of Design Group International and the Society for Process Consulting. He hosts the Third Turn Podcast and facilitates Maestro-level leaders. Discover the Maestro-level cohort that is waiting for you! Click the banner below to learn more!

Mark L. Vincent will join us for the Outcomes Conference 2024. Mark will share wise perspectives during the CEO Forum panel as these leaders enter their third turn of leadership and begin to shape their lifelong legacy!

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