Thursday 27 March 2008

High on emotion

Let’s talk about labours of love. I am referring to anything you do with passion. It can be about someone you love or something you love to do. I think the reasons we marry and the reasons we work have the same fundamentals. The people we want to serve must be close to our hearts. When you marry someone I imagine it is because of something you feel. And I know that when you love getting up in the morning to go to work it is because of a feeling and not a thought. The heart and the head are always battling this one out. The head tells us that we need to pay the rent. And the head is often filled with egotistical ideas pushing us to make more and more money so we can get that convertible or join that fancy club. But it is the heart that feels, and when your work becomes something you love then true fulfillment will follow. History has taught us that the most successful ventures have always been those that were a labour of love.

Love is one emotion that drives people, as is revenge, which is what motivated many Japanese companies, like Sony. You drop 2 atom bombs on a country and it is safe to say that emotions will run very high after that for quite some time. Stamping "Made in Japan" all over America must have been quite energizing. Revenge is a powerful emotion. Maybe not as compelling as love, but just as forceful.

Sony was one of those companies that was driven by angry emotional energy over 50 years ago. I am sure that emotional energy transformed into something more positive as this is not the driving force today I imagine (as we all know Sony has become a powerhouse of a company that is loved and admired 50 years after those insane times). The great companies all wanted to make a difference in this world. This is an emotional mission. These people wanted to feel fulfilled and proud – the strongest of emotions. Sony, Disney, Hewlett Packard, Boeing, Merck … these companies were driven by a mission that went way beyond making money.

Can someone be emotional about money? People get all defensive and over emotional when you tell them that all they care about is money. Quite a paradox I think.

So, how does one live life more from the heart and less from the head? For a start, switch off your damn cellphone. Cellphones are definitely fueling the comparison game. It is no wonder people are obsessed with making money – I mean, your phone keeps going off and invariably you are going to hear someone tell you how much they are making which simply is going to get you moving your financial goal posts one step further into outer space. Money is not the only way to measure success you know. We all feel pressured to make more and more of it, which is all about quantitative living. And in the process, qualitative life takes a back seat. We are living in such egotistical times, where vanities are running rampant; my advice to you is throw away your cellphone. Human beings are generally weak. That is why all this technology is controlling us and not the other way round. This is what the progress paradox is all about. So, switch that stupid digital intruder off and then no one will be able to phone you and show off how much richer they are than you. This is the problem folk. Try convincing yourself that you really need that extra million. Tell me you shouldn’t spend more time with your kids. Tell me the reason you want to make more and more money is because you have a burning desire to help so many charities and people in need. Stop trying to beat your neighbours, competitors and your friends. Focus on beating yourself. The visionary companies of our time focused on beating themselves. Think about it, if your competition is up to shit and you beat them, what does that make you, shit + 1. Is that how you measure yourself?

Harry Cohn from Columbia Pictures died with over a billion dollars in the bank, but he died a misery. Over 10,000 people went to his funeral but not to mourn him. They went to make sure he was actually dead. Yeah, we would love to have as much money as uncle Harry. By any stretch of the imagination he sounds like a huge success. But they all depends on how you go about measuring success.

Stephen Covey reminds us that we should small decisions with our heads and big decisions with our hearts. The question is what is a small and big decision we might have to make? Small decisions generally don’t affect anyone but you. They are short lived. Big decisions generally affect other people besides you. The consequences of these decisions may affect generations to come. Deciding to dedicate your life to medical research, for example, is a big decision. This is what the Merck family did, and the world conspired to reward them for their effort. Labours of love result in true success. Wheeling and dealing and manipulating tech stocks and hyping the facts may result in short term financial gain, but that is it. If you want to get high, on emotion that is, listen to your heart, and try and work at what you love to do. Switch that cellphone off, and don’t listen to what everyone else is doing. Just because certain trends take off does not mean they are good. Techno music. Drinks called Black Cow and Pink Dog, er, whatever. Come on. The American flag as a fashion icon – not even the Americans buy this crap. I could go on and on. Stop. And listen to your heart. Switch off all those media streams and tune in to your own emotions. Enough said. I have work to do. Work that I love doing.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker