Emotional Decisions

It’s perfectly fine to make emotional decisions…..so long as you take the emotions out before you decide anything. We humans are impatient people, we’re also a pretty reactionary bunch and when you add emotions into that mix you’ll often find yourself making some pretty poor decisions.

Everything can be going just fine and then, right out of nowhere, you receive some inexplicable information that completely turns your world upside down. You might be shocked, hurt, afraid, unhappy, and even just plain mad. You naturally want to put your world back where it belongs and the sooner the better. When that happens my best advice to you, and myself, is to just take a breath. Maybe several breaths, maybe several thousand breaths.

The best decisions are patient, careful, well crafted decisions, devoid of reaction and certainly with as much emotion removed as possible. Patience requires waiting, making a plan minimizes the tendency to react and talking, thinking, and careful consideration can help diminish the emotion.

It’s very possible, actually quite likely, that when you first receive the shocking information you really don’t have enough information to make a sound decision. Good judgment is a hallmark of effective leadership and emotions mixed with speed tend to remove the “good” from good judgment. 

So slow your roll!

Learn to live upside down for awhile, get to know your new world, inform yourself with facts not opinions, accept advice but decide on your own. Avoid the herd mentality that leads to rushed judgment. Don’t base your new reality on the experiences of others, your positive leadership influence could lead to very different outcome than you first anticipated. 

Not making hasty, poorly thought out decisions is actually the best way for you to maintain some level of control when your world starts spinning. You may not have complete control of where it stops but you can control how and when it stops. Making quick emotional decisions may make you human but it doesn’t make you a leader. Leaders know that control is more likely to come from patience than speed.

Your very human instinct to return to “normal” as soon as possible may be exactly the wrong thing to do. Trust yourself, trust your skills, trust your attitude, and trust your experience to eventually “right your ship.” And learn to embrace “eventually” because not everything needs to be “fixed” the same day it’s broken.

Hang in there and know for certain that a good decision beats an emotional quick decision every single time.

And one more thing….

If this shocking information affects your job remember it’s your job, not your life. You really only lose control of your life when you surrender control of your attitude. Your attitude is your greatest asset in times of turmoil but only when you choose to keep it positive. No one can take that choice from you but you can give it away. Never, never, never give it away.

Is “Passion” Just an Excuse?

Would you describe yourself as a passionate person? Passionate about your business, your industry, your job, or your people?

If you are, that is a good thing…. maybe.

I say maybe because too often people in leadership positions use “passion” as an excuse for losing control of their emotions. If you’ve never used the excuse you have certainly heard it, you know, the “sorry about losing my temper, but I’m “passionate” about this. Or, “sorry I called you an idiot but my “passion” for the project got the best of me.”

I’m going to say this as cleary as I can; Authentic Servant Leaders do not use passion as an excuse for losing control of their emotions.

When you lose control of your emotions you lose. You lose credibility, you lose trust, you lose productivity, you lose time, you lose respect. You may not lose them all but you lose at least some. If you lose them often enough you will also lose the ability to lead.

Let’s look at a very high level definition of passion and emotion. On the surface you are passionate about something; you get emotional about someone. But there’s a more fundamental difference between the two. Passion involves the mind; emotion, by definition, excludes mental judgments, at least sound mental judgments.

Passion drives people to action. A passionate football fan will be driven to study statistics, learn rosters, follow players on social media. They will devote significance time to knowing and understanding the game. Someone who is emotional about football might throw their beer at the TV when the quarterback for “their” team is intercepted late in a game.

Later, when shopping for a replacement TV it will be obvious that throwing the beer was a bad idea. However, at the emotional moment that it happened, practicing good judgment wasn’t even a thought. The guy explains the “unfortunate moment” to his wife by saying he is just a passionate fan.

It’s perfectly okay to be emotional, in fact, we have to be emotional to lead a full life. You need to be aware however that emotions often block your critical thinking skills. When you’re in a highly emotional state you’re thinking differently than when you’re not so emotional. That does not make you a weak leader, it makes you a human being.

The most effective leaders have passion. They also work to maintain control of their emotions when people around them are losing control of theirs. They allow a bit of time to come between their emotions and their decisions.

Authentic Servant Leaders do not make rash emotional decisions. Yes, they will allow emotions to “inform” their decisions but that is far different than making a raw emotional decision.

When you understand the difference between mindful passion and mindless emotion you will be more likely to positively influence the people you lead.

So go ahead, be passionate, be emotional and especially be aware of the difference between the two!