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:
- Think in Living Color
- Feeling trapped, with no clear way out, often leads to anger. One way to defuse your anger is to notice
false traps, particularly the false dichotomy. When you notice that you're the target of a false dichotomy,
you can control your anger more easily — and then the trap often disappears.
- When You Travel Alone
- Many of us travel as a part of our jobs, and some of us spend a fair amount of that time traveling solo.
Here are some tips for enlivening that time alone while you're traveling for work.
- Why Dogs Wag Their Tails
- If you've ever known a particular dog at all well, you've probably been amazed at how easy it is to
guess a dog's mood, even though dogs can't speak. Perhaps what's more amazing is that it's so difficult
to guess a person's mood, even though humans can speak.
- A Guide for the Humor-Impaired
- Humor can lift our spirits and defuse tense situations. If you're already skilled in humor, and you
want advice from an expert, I can't help you. But if you're humor-impaired and you just want to know
the basics, I probably can't help you either. Or maybe I can...
- More Things I've Learned Along the Way
- Some entries from my personal collection of useful insights.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 3: Capability Inversions and the Dunning-Kruger Effect
- A capability inversion occurs when the person in charge of an effort is far less knowledgeable about the work involved or its purpose than are the people doing that work. In capability inversions, the Dunning-Kruger effect can intensify group dysfunction, sometimes severely disrupting the effort. Available here and by RSS on June 3.
- And on June 10: They Don't Reply to My Email
- Ever have the experience of sending an email message to someone, asking for information or approval or whatever, and then waiting for a response that comes only too late? Maybe your correspondent is an evil loser, but maybe not. Maybe the problem is in your message. Available here and by RSS on June 10.
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- Bullet Points: Mastery or Madness?
Decision-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.
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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.