in Career Development, Improvement & Development, Leading the Self, Random Thoughts

Giving Up On Need To Be ‘Rational Always’

As we grow, our belief system firms up with notions of what is right and what is wrong. What works and what not. At work, our beliefs further solidify according to the context we work in. Understanding of data, facts and trends is important because it make us “rational”.

The problem starts however, when we try to be rational all the time. A leader who always takes a rational standpoint fails to inspire people, because people are not always rational. An individual who always goes with conventional wisdom, proven tracks and charted paths quickly becomes “one amongst many”. Parents who drive kids with their own pre-existing beliefs do more harm to kids than help. Purely rational, planned strategies will never allow organizations to have major breakthroughs. A sales professional cannot sell effectively based on data and facts, for people buy on emotion, and then need facts to justify that emotion.

Rationality makes us highly predictable. It does not leave any room for an original thought. If everyone does it, and if it is working reasonably well, we should do it too.

The key is to give up on our urge to be right all the time, and balance structure with chaos. Listening to the rational mind and the emotional one.

Things like passion, faith and belief are mostly irrational. When people take “leaps of faith”, they are seldom based on evidences and numbers. They do it because they are passionate about it and they believe in the outcome. They take a decision and then work hard to make those decisions right. If those decisions don’t go as planned -they learn. That is how we change ourselves, our teams and our organizations – one irrational and original thought at a time.

As Godin says,

Irrational passion is the key change agent of our economy. Faith and beauty and a desire to change things can’t be easily quantified, and we can’t live without them.

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  1. While I agree Tanmay, I don’t know how to Give it up. How to ask your mind to stop being rational sometimes?

    • @Rushikesh – Two ways 1) Look for joy – most people don’t do things they love doing (e.g. singing) thinking too much how others will evaluate. Give up the constant fear of what others will think. Sometimes, what is perfectly joyful for us could seem to be irrational for others. Rationality is contextual. 2) Trust your gut: There is a constant internal conflict between mind and heart (call it logic v/s intuition) and it pays to listen to what heart has to say. Intuition is a gift we have, but constantly seem to ignore it. Some of my best life decisions were made purely on intuition, and they have paid me well 🙂

      I hope this helps.

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