The Three Hearts of Business
Balancing our warm heart, strong heart, and being light-hearted can create greater awareness and open up different possibilities in how we connect.
What’s it like to fully show up in your professional role? How do you get a sense of being effective yet centered in the moment? In what ways can you increase your awareness of how to balance connecting with yourself and others?
I don’t know why the concept of three hearts popped into my head (this stuff happens, you know!). But when it did I realized that this is a framework for the ways of being that I strive to be conscious in my work.
The first heart is Warm Hearted. This is the place of showing care and compassion, of bestowing trust and respect, and of the presence of love as a unifying force. Our warm hearts allow us to see someone else’s stuck point as opportunity rather than an obstacle. It helps us to be curious instead of judgmental. And, it recognizes our common humanity no matter how much of a disconnection we feel.
A warm heart is hard to access when our feelings run cold. It feels buried when we’re overwhelmed. It’s at risk of staying locked up when we’re in the grips of the old “HALT” acronym – hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Excess reliance on warm heart, on the other hand, and we can be overbearing, we may have weak boundaries, or we’re smoking too much hope.
While some might say that a warm heart is dependent on personality, mood, and/or timing, I find it is actually a practice. I’m reminded when I’m cut off by a driver with no interest in “merging,” or when the hold on the 800 line is indefinite – and there are a million other everyday examples – the situations that test my commitment to staying in that warm place. This is why I so appreciate it when my wife humorously reminds me that she doesn’t particularly enjoy being around “Mr. Crab Cakes.” The warm heart is always accessible if we can open up that space.
The second heart is Strong Hearted. This is where we find our courage – literally from the French “cœur” (heart). The strong heart is not “faint of heart” – it knows that it must take the value, principle, or standard “to heart.” This is the place where we take a clear stand, where we reside in our balanced self-confidence, and where we set aside our insecurities.
A strong heart is not about power over, about getting our way, or having an impenetrable shell. I think of it as being related to intention with integrity. Without a strong heart, we cave to others thoughts or feelings, or we get swept along with whatever emotion or distraction is present.
An excess of strong heart has many names – arrogant, unapproachable, distant. When we are not in balance with the other two hearts, this heart appears hardened. Therefore it’s good to get trusted feedback about how others see our balance between determination and stubbornness, between having convictions and being inflexible, and how about this aspect of being is functioning for others.
The cure for insufficient strong heart is assertiveness, while the remedy for too much is being humble. A lovely little balancing act, isn’t it?
The third heart is Light Hearted. I love the semi-famous “Rule #6” in Roz and Ben Zander’s book The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. What’s #6? “Don’t take yourself so damn seriously?” What are the other rules? There aren’t any!
Being light hearted is essential for the maximum effectiveness of either warm hearted or strong hearted. Being warm hearted without levity is smothering, squishy, just too much. Being strong hearted without lightness feels hard, unwelcoming, or self-righteous.
Of course, being light hearted means we can miss the mark at times when our attempts to dance lightly cause us to trip up. Part of not taking ourselves too seriously is the ability to laugh at our mistakes, to see the humanity in our blind spots, and to risk being the fool (or at least foolish).
Another way to express this concept of staying loose is the term “the art of healthy detachment.” We are fully engaged, yet we know that our desired outcome may in fact turn out to be just a desire. We stay open to possibilities without loading up the situation with our unmet needs, our hope for validation, or our wish for a win.
If you need some practice on being light hearted, hang out with young kids, watch that old comedy that never fails to crack you up, or simply turn off your technology and notice the looks you get when you decide that this is the perfect time to go skipping down the sidewalk.
By looking at the matrix of the three hearts, we can postulate the following:
• Warm + strong – light = no fun!
• Warm + light – strong = wimpy!
• Strong + light – warm = crazy-making!
(Your experience and definitions may differ.)
How are your three hearts? Do you have a way to honor them and to bring them into your conscious awareness? Can you strengthen them when they need attention, and let them rest when they’re over-utilized? Obviously this is a work in progress for all of us, however in my experience . . . you gotta have hearts!