Reason and Emotion

Ever been accused of making an overly emotional decision, without any logical reason? Ever been accused of being Mr. Spock, all logic and no emotion? What I am wondering is why do we (western civ. thinkers) persist in thinking that decision making is an either-or proposition? I believe that emotion is in fact reason, on steriods. Emotion comes from the culmination of all of life’s experience, but it is pre-processed in such a way that it is ready to respond at a moments notice. Most of the time this is a great advantage. I think we should all learn to be more comfortable trusting our emotions and instincts.

On the other hand, cool, collected logic and reason allows us to deal with new situations we have not confronted before. We process more slowly than emotional response, because we are taking more time gathering data. Of course it is impossible to gather all the data, so ultimately even "logical decisions" rely on some amount of embedded knowledge (emotion) to reach a conclusion.

The moral of the story? There is no such thing as a purely emotional or purely logical decision. So pay attention when you accuse someone of making an "emotional" decision, that may in fact be the best way to make the decision. And don’t make the mistake of believing that the "logical thinker" is devoid of emotional components in their decision-making, all decisions are emotional, because no one has all the data.

Practicing what you Preach

On Sunday the sermon was delivered by a visiting minister from Haiti. The message was good, but that is not what I want to write about. What I found particularly compelling was the personal passion with which he delivered his message, and the authenticity with which he conducts his own life. He serves one of the poorest communities in Port-au-Prince, yet he so believes in what he does that the service he provides is in itself what he most highly values as compensation.

What a model! …if only corporate America could learn from it …

Imagine an organization where the passion for your work was so strong that merely your accomplishments and contribution was enough to satisfy your internal drive. …Easy to say, hard to do. I know I am not yet ready to foresake the "comfort and security" of a nice $$ compensation package. OK maybe this is a little bit too Utopian, so let’s look at what we can pragmatically learn from Pastor Leon’s passion and authencity.

"Practicing what you preach", means walking the talk! You get the feeling from listening to Pastor Leon that he truly practices what he preaches. You know that he is facing the issues, in one of the poorest places in the worls, head on, without excuse. You are sure that if you were to see him working he would be operating with the same conviction and joy in every situation. How often do we see that in our leaders, or even in ourselves? Why is that? How can we have the passion and authenticity of Pastor Leon?

Compelling Connections

Most of my posts tend to be more philosophical than pragmatic in nature. I have been thinking a lot about more tangible ways to imbed these philosophies into an organization. One idea that may have some promise is the process of actively building compelling connections into our everyday (work) lives.

As individuals, as managers, as HR reps, as mentors, etc. begin with asking the question, “what is really important to me?” I think this is the type of question that people do not answer for themselves very often. If you could answer that question with regularity, even every day, it would be so much easier to face the deluge of decisions we each face every day.

You may ask,” isn’t that what professional development plans [or whatever it is that your organization makes you do every year] are all about?” I would say no, because those plans start from the premise of what the company wants of you, and then you need to mold what you do to fit that need.

What I am thinking about is an examination of who you are as in integrated individual that includes your work / home / spiritual / recreational self. What is your passion, what makes you tick? If you really understand this, you will make integrated decisions, and avoid the types of conflicts that arise from the competing parts of your life. If you make your decisions in silos (work, home, etc.) you will create problems and stress.

When you can see what is important to you, you can then make more compelling connections to each aspect of your life.

For me personally, I think my kids hold the key to what is most important to me, though I cannot yet articulate it. But if I go with that, it makes many of my work decisions easier. I want to be the kind of person that my boys can learn from. Many times I am faced with decisions with political implications, or decisions with an easy out versus a difficult ethical outcome. If I put it in context of wanting to set a role model for my kids, the answer is often clear.

Find your purpose, find your passion, and then make the compelling connections to all parts of your life.