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Hearts and Smarts
by Caela Farren, Ph.D., MasteryWorks, Inc.

Successful organizations will be built by remarkable people who have both the hearts and the smarts to make a difference in the world.
What kinds of people do we need to solve the complex problems and questions we’re wrestling with in our unstable world? Standard HR tags like, “high performers” and “key contributors” are well entrenched in today’s lingo/taxonomy. I would submit that these words describe our fixation with the bottom-line rather than our heart-line. Both inside and outside of corporate walls, today’s complex problems and questions (education, innovation, sustainability, financial security, geo-political relationships, or any others you might name) require not only smarts, but also hearts.

The combination of hearts and minds joined for a common purpose is an explosive mixture that can produce some remarkable results in our tumultuous world. Isn’t it time we included the concept of “remarkability” in our career conversations about performance and leadership? Shouldn’t we broaden our dialogue with each employee to touch hearts and open our organizations to help solve local and global problems? Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes success begins with one individual after another. He wrote, “We cannot capture hearts and minds. We must engage them; we must listen to them, one heart and one mind at a time.”

Organizations Can Do More
Of course organizations have a responsibility to provide leadership and solutions to face organizational challenges that affect stakeholders, but they also need to be committed to improving the human condition. At some level, every organization exists to address one or more of our basic human needs – financial security, health and well-being, learning, transportation, leisure, family, social relationships, etc. Successful corporate missions spill over to advancing the lives of people not only through products and services, but also with a serious sense of social awareness. Every person has gifts of initiative, creativity and passion. The best leaders provide insight, guidance and opportunities to foster those unique gifts and allow each employee Autonomy for significant independence and self-direction in linking services or products to enhancing basic human needs. Such leaders give each employee a sense of Purpose by providing worthwhile work with social value to benefit communities and mankind. In the 21st Century, organizations will not be built by profits alone. Successful organizations will be built by remarkable people who have both the hearts and the smarts to make a difference in the world. Later articles in this series will showcase many examples of remarkable people and organizations.

People with Smarts Only
Why do so many organizations think brains are more important than hearts? Most companies typically look for, recruit and hire “high performers” and “potential leaders.” Interviewers’ lists universally contain questions about university degrees, class grades, technical excellence, innovative thinking and problem solving, etc. Interviewers don’t have any place in their questionnaires listing – “heart.” What happens when you have a company filled with smarts, but without people with hearts? I submit they become the AIGs’, Bernie Maddoffs and the Enrons of the world. People with heart are not motivated by money. Their success is tied to an inner need to make the world around them a better place. And, believe it or not, this doesn’t necessarily exclude profit.

People with Smarts and Hearts
Hearts have to do with caring, compassion, understanding, gratitude, deep listening and generosity. Heart-felt people are propelled by a deep emotional commitment to take care of certain kinds of people, problems or opportunities. I am not talking about billionaires like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates or Rockefeller and Carnegie who amassed great fortunes and created charitable foundations to do the giving, while they receive the notoriety and some huge tax write-offs. Of course, they are to be congratulated for their philanthropy. I’m thinking about ordinary people, like Anuradha Koirala from Nepal, who works at raising money to buy thousands of children out of brothels in Southeast Asia, Guadalupe Arizpe De La Vega, who founded a hospital in Mexico that cares for about 900 of the poorest people daily, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, who works out of a tin shed in the Scottish Highlands to provide free daily meals to more than 400,000 children, Harmon Parker, who uses his own hands to build footbridges over rivers in Kenya, and Aki Ra, who clears land mines in Southeast Asia.

People with hearts see something that cries out for help and are compelled to take action. Their deep emotions provide an energy that allows them to persist in the face of adversity and engage their minds and others in seeking solutions to specific problems. For example, Bowdoin College graduate, Hanley Denning went to Guatemala in August of 1997 to learn Spanish. While driving past the Guatemala City garbage dump, she saw the reality facing miserably poor children in Guatemala. She sold her computer and her car and, using some money she had in savings, created “Safe Passage” and enrolled 40 of the children of the dump into her school and breakfast program. Over the next eight years, Hanley raised tens of thousands in the United States to continue the program in Guatemala. Although she was killed in an automobile accident in Guatemala in 2007, Safe Passage continues to provide thousands of children with education, social services, and the chance to move beyond the grinding poverty their families have faced for generations. Hanley’s story represents the power of one person’s vision to make a difference and the passion to see it through.

You don’t have to go far to find remarkable people. For example, most of the land in the surrounding areas west of where I now live was devoted to agriculture. In the 70’s, many of the school children from farm worker families were in dire need of medical and dental care, food, clothing and homework help. Social worker and health educator Caridad Asensio founded the Migrant Association of South Florida in order to help these children and to provide housing to agricultural workers and their families. Three years later with the help of volunteer doctors and dentists, they started a free clinic in a doublewide trailer. The clinic was able to purchase land, build and open what is now the current location housing the 7500 square-foot Caridad Center and currently serves more than 6,500 migrant workers with more than 25,000 office visits.

Thousands Walk By but Only a Few Stop
What made Hanley Denning and Caridad Asensio stop in their tracks? After all, every day hundreds of tourists probably walked by the children of the dump and the same number or more ignored migrant workers without blinking an eye. Why did these two remarkable people stop when everyone else turned their heads? Something struck them and whatever it was, it resonated deeply within. They had the stuff to be remarkable at the start, but it took the right event at the right time to trigger an epiphany. For mountain climber, Greg Mortenson, (author of “Three Cups of Tea”) injured and near death, it was when some of the most impoverished and uneducated people living in the mountains of Pakistan rescued him and selflessly nursed him back to health. He has devoted his life to helping the rural Afghanistani and Pakistani people by building scores of schools in the farthest reaches of those countries For Hanley Denning, it was the sight of grinding poverty on the faces of children pulling little wagons on their way to the dump through the streets of Guatemala City. For Caridad Asensio, it was the time when she saw a dying migrant worker’s family turned away from a local hospital. It is always some event that catapults ordinary people with hearts and minds into action and changes them forever.

Simon Sinek believes all great people, leaders and innovators think, act and communicate in the same way. They don’t look at the process of what to do in order to mend things. If they did, they would probably see so many roadblocks and pitfalls, they would walk away. According to Sinek, remarkable people are all about WHY they’re doing whatever they’re doing – their purpose, beliefs, causes – not WHAT to do or HOW to do it. He uses the example of Martin Luther King who brought together 250,000 people in Washington D.C. because of his beliefs. His famous speech is “I Have a Dream” – not “I have a Plan.”

What did Hanley Denning and Caridad Asensio have in common? They experienced an event that brought out the compassion, understanding and caring we all have within us. Their compassion and the compassion of remarkable people like them set world-records, raise the bar to reduce human misery, make breakthroughs and create innovation. They are the zealots who challenge previous limits and are obsessed with bringing mankind to a better place.

The combination of hearts and minds joined for a common purpose is an explosive mixture that produces some remarkable results. Every person working in your organization has gifts of initiative, creativity and passion. What is your organization doing to provide and support insight, guidance and opportunities to foster those unique gifts? Leaders with hearts and smarts will grant each employee significant independence and self-direction to engage in worthwhile work with social value to benefit communities and mankind. In the 21st Century. successful organizations will not be built by profits alone. They will be built by remarkable people who have both the hearts and the smarts to make a difference in the world. And the organization will be a strong proponent of social responsibility – local and global. Who are the remarkable people in your organization? How are you supporting them?

About the Author
Caela Farren, Ph. D., is President of MasteryWorks, Inc., - a leading Career Development consulting organization offering innovative solutions to large and mid-size companies, including Sony, Northrop Grumman, Bayer, Lockheed-Martin and Capitol One. MasteryWorks provides enterprise web portals, training, consulting, and an assessment framework for employees and managers. For more than thirty years, Dr. Farren has been a passionate leader around complex issues redefining the workplace. She envisioned the current workplace climate more than a dozen years ago, when she published a cornerstone compendium on career selection, “Who is Running Your Career: Creating Stable Work in Unstable Times” (Bard Press, 1997). Through MasteryWorks, Inc., she oversees solutions that create the foundation for impact-filled “career conversations” - centered on increased contribution, performance, and fit. Her strategic approach consistently delivers on employee engagement and retention goals for her clients. Visit or contact Tom Karl, Executive Vice President for more information - or (703) 256-5712.

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