Minds Losing out to the Heart – Really ?
There was an interesting article in The Times this weekend by Max Hastings bringing to our attention the steady decline of deep thought. The tenet of his article, is around how we are “dumbing-down” with respect to deep research, academic rigour in respect to thoughts opinions and articles. He cited, the quick access/answer society, where people are using Google and Wikipedia, and the fact our universities are no longer the bastions of free speech, with the rise of platforms being censored, driven by a sense of “being offended”. He went as far as saying that we are entering a dark age, where hearts are ruling minds. This has also been echoed by Jordan B Peterson, the Canadian academic who has postulated that the current rise of “Tribalism” and “Polarisation” with respect to thoughts and opinions is having a detrimental effect on our ability to think as individuals. People are either “For” or “Against”, rather than thinking freely. To quote Max, ” For many centuries before the Age of Enlightenment, religion and superstition were permitted to influence and sometimes dominate societies. After less than 300 years in which the exploration of evidence has been recognised as the best driver of human affairs, there is now a movement to renounce this principle.
I think these are important points that are well made, but we also must not become so process driven that the impact of our “Hearts” is diminished. Data and detail are absolutely critical to support proper analysis and opinion forming, but being at one with our emotions, which could have a parallel with our hearts, is also critical and hence the sine wave image at the top of this post. Everything goes in cycles, and there needs to be balance. The beauty of the sine wave is that it is balanced, equally above and below the line. If we use the analogy that above the line is the “Head” and below the line is the “Heart” then you could say we need “Head” and “Heart” to be in balance. I postulate that we need to be in charge of our emotions, to a point where we can access our “processing side” effectively in a way that allows us to always come up with the best possible outcome. I always am minded of the great book, “Thinking Fast and Slow” by the eminent thinker Daniel Kahneman. He describes the type 1 brain as the reactive and intuitive piece, and the type 2 as the processing and more deliberate piece. He has proven that if we are in control of our type 1, then this allows our type 2 to function better. This has the parallel of being able to control our emotions. We need our emotions to engage with people and build trust, but we also need to be in control of them. So how do we be in control with our heart and emotions? I have covered this before, but it is about being aware of ourselves, and our environment. Mindfulness is about being self aware, and with a level of mindfulness we will be more aware of our environment, and how we influence it. In my experience, the top “Processors and Thinkers”, have way greater influence if they are in control of themselves and their emotions. It is not about eradicating emotion, but being aware of it, and how it influences our work and decision making. Coaching can help with the self-awareness, and that of the environment.
For me this closes the loop of heart and mind, and the necessity to have them in perfect balance, and have that sweet spot. If we take a look at the great leaders, this is what they have.