“There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused. At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against?” – John Steinbeck, East of Eden
If I were to ask you, “What do you stand for?” how would you answer? The question matters, as does the answer, because it’s already there. It fuels your actions and reactions. It sets your compass heading. It shapes relationships in your life. It matters in your business.
The question is not about, “What do you feel strongly about?” or “What have you observed that any logical person should accept?” It is stronger that either of those two alone. What will you stand for when everyone else is sitting? What will you do, even when there is risk associated with the doing of it, just because it is the right thing to do? These are not yet moral questions. These are questions born from the tension between passion and reason.
People often choose either passion or reason as a life paradigm. Avoid the tension. In the tension, however, lies creativity and innovation. Lies what makes life interesting and worth living. Lies the the very essence of how we process our lives and prosecute our businesses.
Passion refers to a particular blend of emotions – excitement, inquisitiveness, empathy, yearning, love, joy, and awe – that move us, that carry us ever deeper and closer in the realm(s) of our passion. Reason refers to what we observe and rationally, systematically consider by logic, experimentation, or application such that conclusions can be drawn, and defended, for ourselves and others. These apparent opposites have a yin and yang relationship with one another.
- Passion asks, “What if?” Reason asks, “What then?”
- Passion generates the energy for action. Reason imposes the constraint of form.
- Passion ignites motivation. Reason sets useful direction.
- Passion demands engagement. Reason provides reflection.
- Passion opens the capacity of empathy. Reason opens the opportunity for a common bond.
Our work at CollierBrown is guided by these forces: note our trademarked statement, “Make sense | Make progress | Make a difference.” Passion seeks to “make a difference,” while reason seeks to “make sense.”
Passion is more effective when it is focused by reason. Reason is more powerful when it is amplified by passion.
The most effective leaders, those who contribute the most, are those who know who they are and what they stand for because they are willing to be animated and energized by passion and refined and directed by reason.
In Other Words…
“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” – Ben Franklin
“My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” ― Jack Kerouac
“There are crimes of passion and crimes of logic. The boundary between them is not clearly defined.” ― Albert Camus
“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” ― George Gordon Byron
“Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.
If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes. – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
In The Word…
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18
“Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months.” – James 5:17