How Emotion Guides Performance

When I was in grade school, at lunch, I would throw away the fruit.

I did it every day– I had a sandwich, usually ham or turkey with some mayo, maybe some yogurt or something, a piece of fruit which I always threw out.

One day the cafeteria lady found the fruit in the garbage. I remember her lifting it out of there and yelling across the cafeteria, “WHO DID THIS???” as I hid my head in shame. Really vivid memory, I’ll never forget it.

This was a fundamental act of rebellion, but that doesn’t mean it was smart. I thought I knew better, and why should I eat this thing I don’t like, so I found a way around it. Every kid does this in their own way. Sometimes it’s good (calling out stupid teachers), but sometimes it’s like the fruit, and we have to see the difference.

Whatever we do in our early lives become the patterns for the rest of it. I still sit with my right foot underneath me like I’ve always done, and like my mother yelled at me about. I still feel comfortable like that, and it’s benign, so whatever. But not everything is like that.

The act of questioning authority is a strong one, and it’s critical that it be based on actual truth or goodwill, but sometimes that’s not enough to change you. The emotions need to lead to ensure that it will actually happen. Fear, desire, jealousy, love– all these and more are the fundamental building blocks of growth.

This means the question should never be “what do I need to learn?” but instead “how do I need to make myself feel?” Then, you move to make yourself feel that way, like psyching yourself up so you can deliver a great speech. The emotion drives the performance.

The stuff that Chris Brogan and I are writing about for the new book is all about understanding the strength of that feeling and how it guides you towards action. So you get the information, you become convinced, and then you build up the necessary emotion.

Once you’ve got that, you’re a weapon. Everything happens when they all line up.





4 responses to “How Emotion Guides Performance”

  1. Whitney Avatar

    Agreed 100% Emotion helps provide the motivation to move and change- it’s that secret factor in engagement

  2. Joe Sorge Avatar

    Julien, I feel the same way about motivating my guests into loyalty.
    How does associating with me and my company make them feel about themselves? What story does it allow them to tell themselves about themselves, or as you put it, make them feel comfortable with their place.

  3. Grace White Avatar

    Looking forward to the new book. Still have to finish Trust Agents however. Yikes

  4. Ryan G Avatar

    Sounds like a great topic for a book Julien. I imagine you will get in to how to identify how you need to feel too.

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