Sounds harsh but there is fascinating research that shows we have thousands of pieces of information come through our senses every hour and the brain has to attach a fear or a love based emotion to each piece that will be used in making a decision. In Antonio Damasio’s exploration of how the mind works (Self Comes to Mind) he describes how people who have had frontal lobe brain injuries can do mechanical tasks like maintaining the car and picking up the kids but they can’t do things like pick a restaurant to save their lives. I would argue, the foundation of leadership is the ability to make a decision.
Now, some say reason is the ability to set aside feelings and be logical. This was Descartes’ error. Reason is driven by fear. Fear is the best response to eminent danger. Without fear you wouldn’t keep your head up and look for the potential downside. The thing about fear is that you have to push back against it or it will push you around. It is a powerful motivator.
Reason is the response to the fear impulse. You keep fear under control by applying the rules of logic and reason. Fear teaches self control by calling upon us to push away the fear and take well thought out action.
Bravery is also a response to fear. It is a decision to not be pushed around by an emotional response to your mortality. If we never felt fear we would never be called upon to be brave. Studies of gaming have shown that facing a challenge and conquering it builds self esteem. The more we know ourselves to be brave, the bigger the space we can occupy in life.
On the love side, we connect to who we really are through following what we love. Taking the time to know your favorite music, your fashion style, your new favorite food, animal or flower all contributes to knowing yourself and being yourself. This connection is the foundation of being creative. If your work requires you to be creative in any way, which most well paying jobs in North America do, you need to have a strong connection to what you love.
Feeling is one of the greatest powers of being human. Being conscious of fear and love and how it best works for us, is a very powerful leadership tool.