To have heart is to pursue a goal with enthusiasm, resolve, and spirit even when everyone around you believes that you cannot do it, or worse, that the goal is inherently unachievable. When the pursuer succeeds, we regard the pursuit as admirable, and we say that the pursuer has heart. When the pursuer fails repeatedly, we regard the pursuit as foolhardy, and we say that the pursuer is stubborn, obsessed, or even stupid. It's easy to pass these judgments after we know the outcome.
We've all had the experience of pursuing a goal that people we respect have advised against. Sometimes we give up. Sometimes we hesitate. Sometimes we try anyway. Here are some suggestions for deciding what to do when others raise doubts.
- Some dreams are unachievable
- You may have heard, "If you can dream it, you can live it." While it's true of some dreams, there are many dreams that neither you nor anyone else alive today can ever live. Distinguishing livable dreams from fantasies can be difficult.
- Two errors are most common. The first is believing that a perfectly achievable dream is unachievable. The second is believing that an unachievable dream is achievable. Be willing to make mistakes, for you surely will. Be willing to make mistakes,
for you surely will. And forgive
yourself when you do.Forgive yourself when you make those mistakes, and learn from them.
- Some people are reliving their lives through you
- Some advice you receive from others is actually advice they wish they would have received earlier in their lives.
- You need not follow all the advice you receive. You need not even thank the advisor, though it's often polite to do so. When you receive advice, consider the possibility that the advice might not actually be meant for you. It could be advice the advisor would have wanted to hear at some point in the past.
- It's your decision
- Whether you press ahead, or change direction just a bit, or strike out in an entirely different direction, it's your decision — a decision you must live with.
- You own your decision and all its consequences. Accepting or rejecting the advice of others doesn't change who owns the decision.
Now a word about failure. Sometimes we fail when we try to achieve something. Failures can be costly. When the cost of failure is mainly emotional, we do have what we need to pay the bill. It's called "heart." People with heart find a way forward, somehow, even if they perhaps adjust their direction. There is another currency that many people use to pay that bill. It's called "discouragement." It is a counterfeit currency. Discouragement doesn't pay the bill. The pain remains. Heart alone can find a way forward. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Emotions at Work:
- Can You Hear Me Now?
- Not feeling heard can feel like an attack, even when there was no attack, and then conversation can
quickly turn to war. Here are some tips for hearing your conversation partner and for conveying the
message that you actually did hear.
- Ethical Influence: II
- When we influence others as they're making tough decisions, it's easy to enter a gray area. How can
we be certain that our influence isn't manipulation? How can we influence others ethically?
- Coercion by Presupposition
- Coercion, physical or psychological, has no place in the workplace. Yet we see it and experience it
frequently. We can end the use of presupposition as a tool of coercion, but only if we take personal
responsibility for ending it.
- Staying in Abilene
- A "Trip to Abilene," identified by Jerry Harvey, is a group decision to undertake an effort
that no group members believe in. Extending the concept slightly, "Staying in Abilene" happens
when groups fail even to consider changing something that everyone would agree needs changing.
- Dealing with Deniable Intimidation
- Some people use intimidation so stealthily that only their targets recognize the behavior as abusive
or intimidating. Targets are often so frustrated, angered, and confused that they cannot find suitable
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming April 1: Incompetence: Traps and Snares
- Sometimes people judge as incompetent colleagues who are unprepared to carry out their responsibilities. Some of these "incompetents" are trapped or ensnared in incompetence, unable to acquire the ability to do their jobs. Available here and by RSS on April 1.
- And on April 8: Intentionally Misreporting Status: I
- When we report the status of the work we do, we sometimes confront the temptation to embellish the good news or soften the bad news. How can we best deal with these obstacles to reporting status with integrity? Available here and by RSS on April 8.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.