Do You Lead with Your Head – or Your Heart?

While doing some last minute holiday shopping this weekend, I noticed a book, The Spell of New Mexico, by one of my favorite writers, Tony Hillerman; a collection of essays by renowned authors with reflections of their visits to the state. Perusing the Contents I saw an essay “The Pueblo Indians” by the famed Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung, whom Sigmund Freud called his “crown prince and successor.”

Jung’s essay is about a visit to Taos Pueblo in 1924-25. He recounts a conversation with a Taos chief in which the chief described his perception of the Europeans and European Americans that he had met.

“See,” said the chief “how the whites look. Their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are mad.”

Jung asked the chief why he thought the whites were all mad. “They say that they think with their heads,” he replied. “We think here,” indicating his heart.

Jung then reflected on the history of European civilization. Instead of seeing the “sentimental, prettified color prints” that artists painted he saw another view of European culture. “What we from our point of view call colonization, missions to the heathen, spread of civilization, etc., has another face – the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry – a face worthy of a race of pirates and highwaymen.”

We who pursue the practice of business sometimes fall into this face. We think about technology, numbers like ROI, ROE, growth of sales and profits, and profit per employee. We don’t always consider the impact of our focus and actions on our employees, customers, business partners, and the community and world in which we live. We don’t see the bigger picture that we might see if we thought with our hearts instead of just our heads.

So throughout this holiday season and as you enter the coming year, consider spending more time thinking and leading from your heart instead of just your head. It may soften your face and actually improve both your business and your business model.

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