Which came first the chicken or the egg? The past few months, within the four domains of leading like Jesus, our focus has been the heart; however, perhaps the most challenging transition is aligning our heart (feelings) to our head (thoughts). This journey can cause us to experience a philosophical dilemma, commonly called the “causality dilemma.” Much of this discomfort occurs because our society encourages competition and individual accomplishment and because there is so much conflicting information, especially within the social sciences. So before we jump more deeply into aligning the head; it’s fair to ask which comes first, the heart or the head?
Psychologists have long proffered how we feel about someone, or something, can affect our behavior towards them. Examples include the harm to others caused by road rage, and currently mass shootings, which are reported daily. However, other psychological theories state that how we think may be associated with our upbringing. Social scientists agree that discrimination is a learned behavior impacting how we view, feel and act toward our differences. In other words, we are taught to think negatively resulting in feeling negatively towards others. Dr. David Jeremiah, founder of Turning Point for God, and Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church says:
“But the relationship between head and heart isn’t just physiological. The Bible speaks of the brain as the center of our thinking and has much to say about the condition of our minds. The heart represents our affection, emotion, and personality. Sometimes it is hard to get the message from our heads to our hearts. It’s possible to have ‘head knowledge’ of God and His Word without its filtering down into ‘heart knowledge’.”
But even the Bible can contribute to our confusion. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) cautions us to “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” However, Proverbs 4:23 (ESV) tells us “above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.” The same verse, in different translations of the Bible, appear to provide different perspective and focus. Our heart and head are interconnected and exist within a symbiotic relationship. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. explained it this way:
“One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right if the head is totally wrong. Only through the bringing together of head and heart-intelligence and goodness-shall man rise to a fulfillment of his true nature.”
If we aspire to lead like Jesus, we must develop the level of consistency and congruence that He demonstrated (Hebrews 13:8). Australian author and mentor, Rachael Bermingham describes the importance of congruence this way:
“A key ingredient to achieving your goals is to make sure your goals are totally congruent with who you are as a person. Your head and hearts desire must match. It’s such an important step in goal achievement and if we miss it, we can end up travelling a long way down the wrong path!”
How do you know if there is congruence between your heart and your head? I found a great answer when I participated in the Biblical DISC® certification workshop, offered by Lead Like Jesus. I learned that we all have a “Natural State” and an “Adaptive State” which represent the behavioral tendencies we select depending on our situation and environment. Consider this example, at home we mostly operate in our Natural State, secure, laid back and chilled; but if a fire were to break out, our adaptive style would kick us into survival mode. We would become more directive and action-oriented to ensure the safety of our family.
We can operate in our Adaptive state for a period of time but will begin to experience tension and stress when we surpass our capacity. Psychology refers to this tension as “cognitive dissonance.” Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort a person feels when their behavior does not align with their values or beliefs. Jesus exhibits qualities consistent with His natural state – love, compassion, honesty, etc.; but when He entered a temple and saw the moneychangers, His adaptive style kicked into high gear (Matthew 21:12-13, NIV).
We can begin achieving congruency between our heart and head by aligning our behaviors to our Natural State. As we develop congruency between our heart and head, we experience “gifted leadership.” Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) says:
“Gifted leadership occurs when heart and head–feeling and thought–meet. These are the two winds that allow a leader to soar.”
I think that we would all like to achieve the kind of “gifted leadership” that would allow us to soar as leaders. Achieving this level of leadership results not only in improvements in our relationships with others, but also increased effectiveness as leaders and joy. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu believe achieving a state of “joy” requires developing “mental immunity.” We can develop mental immunity by developing congruence in four qualities of our mind: perspective, humility, humor and acceptance.
Challenge: Next month we’ll continue aligning our head by exploring strategies for developing mental immunity. However, as a next step, I highly recommend exploring the DISC opportunities available through Lead Like Jesus. DISC offers us the opportunity to better align our heart, head, hands and habits by learning more about ourselves and how we relate to others.
Take the Biblical DISC Assessment and learn more about your natural and adaptive state.