There is nothing quite like a career change or a job hunt to raise the internal debate of Heart vs. Head.“Follow your head, not your heart!” scream the practical voices, bent on success.“Follow your heart, not your head!” sooth those to whom love is paramount. So which is it? For most of my life, I have been able to argue both sides to an issue and come to an impasse with myself – without anyone else having to voice an opinion.
It is such a perilous thing to follow one’s heart. So risky. I mean, that’s your heart out there leading. It could get broken, smashed, stabbed. At the very least, you will expose your soul, become vulnerable. You will cry and you will feel like dying. What if? What if I follow my heart and it turns out it is just my imagination? My own rebellious nature? Now here’s an argument to put fear in the mind of those raised with an overabundance of rules, religion, and regulation: What if I follow my heart and it turns out to be my own evil desires and lusts?
Following your brain seems like such a responsible thing to do. It is equally perilous to your self-esteem to follow your brain, not your heart. If you think it through deeply, if you follow every bit of logic you can muster, weigh the possibilities, twice think through the outcomes, then it is your intelligence you are trotting out there for the world to see, your credentials. Should you fail, you will be labelled for all time as “stupid.” And for the deeply religious and legalistic, again, a trump question: When you follow your brain, are you just following your own willful nature?
Follow your whims? Let your brain govern your heart?
So, I can only report what has happened to me. I have often followed my brain with the result that I became overly responsible. Taking to heart the message that God (or your Higher Power) tells you what to do, but gives you the responsibility of figuring out how to do it, I push and scramble. I try to make it happen – to force outcomes. Like Abraham’s Sarah, I know God promised me a child; so I go find a surrogate mother.
Looking back over my life, the really great jobs have come from times I followed my heart, did what I was created to do, those things in which I found joy; and in the process – I tripped over opportunity. Yes, I say, “follow your heart,” but with this caveat: make sure you have enough brain, skill and preparation to take hold of the root of opportunity when it trips you.