1. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (96).
When I came upon this quote, I was struck by its obvious brilliance. However, despite how logical the principle may seem, I know that I have violated it in the past. Since we often believe that our own ideas, thoughts, and methods are correct, we feel that being understood is the first thing that must be done. After all, we need to enlighten the ignorant among us, right? However, in letting others express their ideas first, we stand a greater chance of proving the validity of our ideas by countering theirs or of actually learning that perhaps their ways/ideas are better.
2. “As we apply brain dominance theory to the three essential roles or organizations, we see that the manager’s role primarily would be left brain and the leader’s role right brain.… Accordingly, my suggestion is this: Manage from the left, lead from the right” (102).
I’m curious as to whether there can be a single individual who possesses the ability to flow between his “left and right brain,” depending on what the situation requires. I wonder if Covey would view the ideal situation to be one individual who has master over both halves or two individuals (one who is more left brain orientated, one more right brain oriented) who work together in harmony.
Potential Answer: After reading Goleman, I get the impression that he believes one individual can both manage and lead successfully when he comments, “Gifted leadership occurs where heart and head – feeling and thought – meet. These are the two wings that allow a leader to soar” (116).
3. “[The four dimensions] also represent the four basic needs and motivations of all people illustrated in the film in the first chapter: to live (survival), to love (relationships), to learn (growth and development), and to leave a legacy (meaning and contribution)” (105).
As these needs coincide with the four universal dimensions of life (body, heart, mind, and spirit), it’s interesting to note that the spirit guides the preceding three, body, heart, and mind. Our desire to leave a legacy spurs our survival, derives from our relationships, and increases with our intellectual growth.
4. “Conscience transforms passion into compassion” (111).
By having a moral compass guide your passion, you are able to give it deeper meaning and power. For example, I may have a passion for reading, but it isn’t until I apply my conscience and consider what good can come from my passion (i.e. teaching others), that I can achieve compassion, an essential ingredient for obtaining a spiritual legacy.
5. “The trigger point for these compelling emotions is the amygdala…The prefrontal area can veto an emotional impulse – and so ensure that our response will be more effective…Without that veto, the result would be an emotional hijack, where the amygdala’s impulse is acted upon” (117).
I was very interested in learning about the neurological background behind our expression of emotions. The brain’s ability to “veto” impractical or reactionary impulses reminded me of Luther, President Obama’s anger translator, whose aggressive emotional reactions contrast with Obama’s general calm demeanor. Originating from a comedy sketch performed by Key and Peele, the character of Luther appeared at the 2015 White House Correspondents Dinner during President Obama’s speech. While the character of Luther, who obviously lacks the prefrontal area with veto power, is wildly humorous, we certainly wouldn’t want such an individual to be president. The ability to control your emotions and not give in to your amygdala’s reactionary triggers serves as an ideal trait for a leader.
6. “But circuits from the limbic brain to the prefrontal lobes mean that the signals of strong emotion – anxiety, anger, and the like – can create neural static, sabotaging the ability of the prefrontal lobe to maintain working memory” (123).
In my own life, I’ve often encountered this concept of “neural static,” generally when I’m panicking after having procrastinated on my studies. With an assignment due the next day, I become full of anxiety; however, it is not until I calm myself down by breathing or taking a walk that I can actually complete the assignment.
7. “The emotions, then, matter for rationality. In the dance of feeling and thought the emotional faculty guides our moment-to-moment decisions, working hand-in-hand with the rational mind, enabling – or disabling – thought itself” (124).
Goleman’s emphasis on the close relationship between emotion and rationality dispels the illusion that in order to be rational, one must remove their emotions from the equation. The fact that emotions guide rationality harkens back to Covey’s idea of the interdependent relationships that constitute society. In other words, whether in relation to the elements of one’s mind or to the individuals of society, one most often achieves greatest success when working in tandem with others.