HEART VS MIND

Venn Diagram

Venn Diagram

Actually, I don't want to choose. But sometimes it's good to know when to engage one over the other.

Some things are obvious. I never feel much passion for home repairs, just as I never think very hard about laughing at a friend's joke. Wars and investments are generally decisions that ought to governed by mindfulness rather than emotional impulse, but you should probably switch off your critical, calculating mind when you go see your four-year-old's first performance on stage.  Your mind can provoke a beating heart, just as your heart can set one's thoughts racing.

For creative types, the choice can turn murky. Creative enterprises usually require measures of both heart and mind. The challenge is to figure out proportions and not let one side overwhelm the other.

There's no perfect guidance on this, but here's how I try to figure it out.

When a project doesn't speak to my passions, doesn't make my skin tingle or my eyes open wide I try to engage my mind. By reaching up into levels of logic and cognition, it's possible to jump start forward momentum, grabbing individual elements of information as if they were rungs on a ladder. Heart enters the picture later, providing polish and a desire to see a job done correctly. The challenge here is to generate sincere invention and sparkle, the flights of fancy that make people care. Heart becomes the fuel, but mind make the machine go.

When a project fully captures me, obsesses me, grabs me like a restless lover, heart runs the show. The danger is that emotional propulsion will lead to decisions that make sense in the moment but aren't fully formed, don't stand up to critical analysis, or offer the potential for deep and lasting impressions. But when heart is in charge, I've generally caught a tiger by the tail, and it's everything I can do to hang on.

I'd like to deny this, but I cannot: more jobs require mind than heart. But quantity and quality are not the same thing.

The saying goes that all good ideas ultimately reduce to work. It's true. Heart makes me long to pack my bags, but mindful determination gets me to complete the long walk. They go together, just as they must be applied in the proper proportions at the right time. I cannot live without both working in sync, and when they're not getting along with each other, the dispassionate referee somewhere in me tries to get them to play nice, work it out, realize the values of the other.

My point is this: it's inevitable that some projects you'll engage will demand substantially more analysis over emotion, while others will make your pulse quicken and your lungs fill faster. Even as day-to-day tasks generally require methodical, calculating mind to complete, heart makes it possible to see jobs through, and with results that surpasses ordinary mediocrity. Heart lights the fire; mind keeps it from burning out of control. Mind builds the house; heart makes it a home. You need both.

--MS

@michaelstarobin facebook.com/1auglobalmedia facebook.com/michael.starobin

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