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:
- The Uses of Empathy
- Even though empathy skills are somewhat undervalued in the workplace context, we do use them, for good
and for ill. What is empathy? How is it relevant at work?
- I've Been Right All Along
- As people, we're very good at forming and holding beliefs and opinions despite nagging doubts. These
doubts lead us to search for confirmation of our beliefs, and to reject information that might conflict
with our beliefs. Often, this process causes us to persist in believing nonsense. How can we tell when
this is happening?
- A Review of Performance Reviews: Blindsiding
- Ever learn of a complaint about you for the first time at your performance review? If so, you were blindsided.
Reviews can be painful. Here are some guidelines for making them a little fairer.
- Not Really Part of the Team: I
- Some team members hang back. They show little initiative and have little social contact with other team
members. How does this come about?
- How to Listen to Someone Who's Dead Wrong
- Sometimes we must listen attentively to someone with whom we strongly disagree. The urge to interrupt
can be overpowering. How can we maintain enough self-control to really listen?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming January 22: Disjoint Awareness: Bias
- Some cognitive biases can cause people in collaborations to have inaccurate understandings of what each other is doing. Confirmation bias and self-serving bias are two examples of cognitive biases that can contribute to disjoint awareness in some situations. Available here and by RSS on January 22.
- And on January 29: Higher-Velocity Problem Definition
- Typical approaches to shortening time-to-market for new products usually involve accelerating problem solving. Accelerating problem definition can also help. Available here and by RSS on January 29.
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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.