Discussing love and marriage with my girlfriends over a pasta dinner and glass of Chianti one evening, I asked:
Is love a feeling or decision?
Love is both we decided, but feelings are fickle and fleeting, whereas decision are steadfast and a matter of will. Feelings can change in a blink of an eye and don’t always stand up well to pressure. A decision, however, is a thought-out, calm, and non-threatening response. Feelings on the other hand are reactionary. They are an instant knee jerk reaction, and in some instances can save us from a snake bite, but they can also lead us to say or do something which in hindsight we wish we could take back.
This is because feelings originate in the deepest oldest parts of our brain; the amygdala. They are intended to warn us of danger and keep us safe, but they are not always the best indicator of reality.
A decision occurs in the neocortex part of our brain. It is based on a rational thought resulting in an action or process and takes considerable consideration and resolve, like being married for 25 years. In other words, “Love is a verb” writes Joel Manby, author of Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders. “It is a set of behaviors that people use to build a healthy relationship with someone regardless of how they feel.”
The neocortex is not only the home of rational thought and decision making, it is in this area of the brain that learning takes place and innovative ideas are born. And not only is it these cognitive processes that keeps marriages together for the long haul, they form the foundation for the most noble of relationships between friends, family, and yes, in the workplace.
The Ancient Greeks understood this. They had four different terms for love-Eros, Philos, Storge and Agape. Marriages built on feelings is Eros love. It is this latter kind of love, however—agape—that we should all hope to strive for at home, in your communities and at work. It is deliberate and unconditional love based on choices and behaviors and when applied as a leadership principle that holds leaders accountable, organizations become healthier and more innovative, and the people within the organization more enthusiastic.
This is the foundation of Eyal Shahar’s philosophy. Healthy and innovative companies are the return on investment of love that is shared from the employer with the employees. Love that is fearless, and as Thomas Aquinas defined it, “to wield the good of another.”
To wield the good of another and incorporate love and all that love entails empowers managers and employees alike, fosters strong relationships and cultivates success for all.
It is through what Manby refers to as the seven principles of agape love this is done:
- Patience – have self-control in difficult situations
- Kindness – show encouragement and enthusiasm
- Trust – Place confidence in someone
- Unselfishness – think of yourself less
- Truthfulness – define reality (corporate and individually)
- Forgiveness – release the grip on the grudge
- Dedication – stick to your values in all circumstances
Whether you are an intern, administrator, manager, part on the C Suite, or an owner of a company, actively practicing the 7 principles helps one to live a more fulfilled life with more purpose and meaning and brings true contentment not only at work but to your homes, to your community and to the world. It is our goal here at OTA to incorporate agape into everything we do, enriching lives across the globe.
(To learn more about how our thoughts and emotions work check out this article https://welldoing.org/article/neuroscience-emotions)