Use Your Smarts and Follow Your Heart

Use Your Smarts and Follow Your Heart

“By all means, follow your heart, just be sure to take your brain with you.”


“Follow your heart, because if you always trust your mind, you’ll always act on logic, and logic doesn’t always lead to happiness.” (Unknown)

Hmm, sounds good!

“For all its accolades and celebrated recognition as sound guidance, I have personally noticed that sometimes ‘follow your heart’ is really bad advice.” (Steve Maraboli)

Oh, wait a minute, maybe I should rethink this! 

Which is correct?  Which approach should I use with a big decision I’m facing at the moment?

It’s a universal dilemma.  

Does this sound familiar: Finding yourself torn between doing what seems most “practical” and what feels good? 

Staring down a decision with sweaty palms and not knowing which to listen to – your head or your heart? 

You are not alone.

shutterstock_notebook, heart, etc

We all have our default setting when it comes to making decisions.  We tend to lead with our heart or our head.  But it’s the combination of the two that enables us to turn a dream into reality.

Take NASA, for instance.  Space travel began as a dream, a quest of the heart, a yearning.  But its successes to date have been driven by both the heart and the head.

The joy of exploration, the wonder of each new discovery that awaits, the mystery of what’s out there tugs at the hearts of NASA scientists and astronauts.  We all may love to gaze at a sky full of stars, but the folks at NASA feel a mighty pull to take action.

This is where the brain needs to kick in and partner with the heart, to sort out the millions of details that make it possible to, say, take their heart’s desire – a trip to Mars – to fruition, one step at a time.

They don’t choose between heart and smarts; they put both to work for them to achieve their goals.

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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which you may have used in your workplace, can help us see our preferred decision-making approach.

In MBTI parlance, we each have a preference for making decisions from either a Thinking or Feeling perspective.

The Thinking approach focuses first on “logic and consistency,” while the Feeling approach focuses first on “people and special circumstances.”

One of the key words here is first.  Just because we tend toward one or the other, doesn’t mean we have to stop there.

If you’re a strong Feeling decision-maker, start there.  But then, give that Thinking muscle some exercise too.  And vice versa.

One of the sometimes overlooked but most important things about the MBTI is that it shines a light on not just where we are strong, but where we have the opportunity to develop ourselves.

So we may start with a preference for making decisions with an emphasis on Thinking, and with this self-knowledge, we can work to strengthen the Feeling side of the equation with conscious effort.

There are loads of books on this topic, and on the MBTI site, you can get a quick idea of what your “type” may be.

shutterstock_notebook, heart, etc

Balance and partnership between head and heart, feeling and thinking can help us make those “sweaty palm” decisions in the most effective way.  We just need to use our smarts and follow our heart.

Have a great week!


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Peggy Fall has been helping match talented people and great companies for years, and is a strong believer in blazing your own trail, creating meaningful work, and living life on your own terms. “There’s a whole range of possibilities out there if we leave old paradigms of ‘how life is’ behind.”

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