“I remember how I hated them. Because they hated me. And I couldn’t understand why. I wondered why I even existed. That’s when I found out I had this demon inside me. It wasn’t my fault, but everyone acted as if it was. That just made it worse. But then… a few people came along who paid attention to me. That made it better. It was alright then, even though I had this monster inside me. Even though everyone else acted like I didn’t exist. Because I wasn’t alone anymore. For the first time in a long time, I was happy again. Really, really happy. They made me remember how good life could be. They made me glad to be alive. But when I think back to where I was before I met them, it’s scary. Nothing but pain and darkness. What would I be like if I stayed there? All alone. That’s how come I can understand him.”
— N a r u t o U z u m a k i
Note: I don’t think we give enough credit to Naruto—or at least, not at this point in time. This was Naruto reflecting on his life after meeting Gaara, after seeing how similar their situations were yet how drastic their outcome.
Naruto may not have a high cognitive intelligence, but his emotional intelligence goes above and beyond the norm. Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to perceive, control, evaluate, and express emotions. Research has found that individuals with strong leadership potential also tend to be more emotionally intelligent—which just supports even further why this unpredictable hyperactive ninja became Hokage.
I know at this time we found it really amusing that he always stated, “I’m gonna be Hokage someday!” and assumed that obviously the show was going to end with that because of the efforts he put to get there, but I think it’s really important to note how Naruto was such a great candidate for that position because of this inherent quality.
I read somewhere how when encountering a person who is extremely unstable mentally or otherwise, the first and foremost thing you should do is listen to what they have to say—to try and understand them. Why? Because most of the time, such people just need someone to just accept their emotions and their words as holding importance—to accept the fact that their emotions are real and worthy of attention.
We have made Naruto’s ‘talk-no-jutsu” somewhat of a joke and just something more funny than serving a purpose—and yes, sometimes it does appear as if it is overdone—but just think about it for a second. This is the ninja world where these shinobi are constantly killing and such a life is traumatic at times. Think of all the people Naruto has met that have gone through so many traumatic experiences and are just not mentally stable and the very first thing he always does is listen. To try and relate. To understand them. To say, “Hey, I hear what you’re saying, and I understand your emotions are real.”
This quality of his—THIS right here is why he TRULY became Hokage. Why he was so qualified for the position. He never believed any feeling or thought was below him and he always listened to each person he encountered. He brought people together this way. And when you’re sitting at such a high position as Hokage (or whatever position of leadership), it is SO important to be both perceptive and receptive of e v e r y person out there—no matter what their status/rank/race/age/personality/ideology/etc.
And on top of that all, Naruto was very self-aware. Do you see how he reflected on being the kyuubi container? He’s this thirteen-year-old kid who realized that the hate people had was targeted toward the kyuubi container, not him. But because they were one in the same thing, the hate was also targeted towards him. And because he was able to grasp this concept, he was able to use this to push forward to turn that hate around by reaching out to one person at a time until he was reaching out to the whole of the shinobi world.
It’s honestly so beautiful. We could all learn so much from his character. And try to apply some of his methods to our daily lives. Imagine how much positive change that would bring into this world.