I’ve spent a fair bit of time reflecting over the past few months about what I’ve always considered to be more of a “non-business” issue – feelings. Through that reflection and reading however, I believe I have connected some dots for myself that I thought might be valuable to share more broadly. What I’ve discovered is that the times where I have been most successful in my career as a leader (and personally as well) have been when I stopped trying to separate feelings from work and actually embraced them.
I think what connected the last dots for me was a book I just finished reading called “The Radical Leap Re-energized” by Steve Farber. In it the lead character is taken through a unique leadership experience and learns from some new mentors a method of extreme leadership based around the concept of:
How to do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.
The integral component of the word love in that statement seems so obvious when you think about it, but it’s not a concept I think we commonly embrace with the meaning that it should. When we think of love in this context we often think in terms of passion for our work, passion for our teams, or passion to win, not in the touchy feely way that I believe we need to.
Love is a strong emotion and it is one that I think I have struggled periodically with. Love isn’t just caring about someone or being passionate about our work. Love is a genuine caring for the needs and wants of another person, and a genuine engagement in a purpose and work that has an audacious and impactful outcome that betters the world we live in. Love is more meaningful than just passion or caring, it goes to a place where we genuinely feel for the outcomes we have as leaders on the people, organization, and community around us.
By my nature I am a more reserved person when it comes to feelings. I don’t let people in easily, and I am careful about how openly I share my feelings. I don’t not share because I don’t feel, I don’t share because I’m afraid of being hurt.
When I allow myself to operating in business and life in that reserved way I am cheating myself and the people around me of the great things that can come from expressing those feelings and love openly. I cheat myself of the genuine interactions that come from a deeper feeling relationship, and I am cheating others of an understanding of the deep caring and interest I have in them and their needs which is going unexpressed.
When I have been concious of integrating my feelings into work and life and allowing myself to share those feelings openly I have experienced greater success in my career, greater friendships and relationships, and greater happiness. When I allow myself to unconsciously protect those feelings I have found myself stalled in my professional and personal life and have experienced the lowest periods of my life.
Our feelings are a deeply connected part of who we are as people, as friends, and as leaders, and ignoring them or pretending that they aren’t a critical part of all parts of our life restricts our ability to connect with people and create happiness around us. I am challenging myself to be more open and expressive going forward every moment of every day, and I would challenge anyone reading this to do the same.
Build your authenticity by integrating your feelings into the work you do and the interactions you have with others, and share your love for your greater purpose and the people around you who love what you do, and you will find greater happiness and more success.
Life is too short to live it hiding from hurt feelings. Embrace them, learn with them, and engage with them and you will be rewarded.
What are you feeling?
Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.