The Heart vs. The Head

“I was signing up for freedom.” That response swiftly left my lips when my former partner (Bobby) in a former business (First Research) recently asked me what I was signing up for when I signed up to work with him. Bobby and I once were colleagues at a very large, national bank. We were both frustrated and tired of being so low on the totem pole, and having so many people telling us what to do and how to do it and when to do it. Reports. Rules. Processes. Deadlines. Unrealistic goals. We both felt boxed in. If you work for a large business, you know the story.

Bobby came up with an idea for a business, and asked me to leave the bank with him and help him start it. But as frustrated as I was, I passed. I didn’t have the courage to make the move. Seemed like too much risk. After all, I had a “good job” with “great benefits” at a large company. I fell victim to my head, to conventional wisdom. So Bobby left and got First Research started, and I stayed closely in touch with him. Each time I spoke to him and listened to him tell me passionately about what he was doing and successes he was having and mistakes he was making, I filled with envy. It made me hate my job more and more every time I thought of the freedom he had. It made me feel more and more suffocated, more and more frustrated. Something was burning inside me. It was a battle between my heart and my head. My heart told me I had to leave my job, I had to find freedom. My head told me I would be crazy to leave corporate America and take on the daunting risks that lie ahead. Thankfully, though my head won a few battles, my heart won the war.

This Braveheart scene gives me chills to this day because it reminds me so much of where I was when I was in corporate America, and where I am now. If you are stuck in corporate America right now, but you have an idea for a business and a passion you want to follow, and your heart and your mind are waging a battle, do yourself a favor and play this scene every day. Play it 5 times per day. You owe it to yourself as fuel for your heart’s fire, because your mind is getting all kinds of fuel from the risks you constantly think about, the naysayers, the pessimistic people around you, the “safe” job you have which you would be “crazy” to leave, and so many of your colleagues whose hearts have hardened, bit by bit, over the years to the point where they have no heart to follow. William Wallace represents your heart. The men in the crowd who don’t won’t to fight are your head…

In March of 1999 I followed my heart and left the bank to join Bobby and the fledgling business he had started, First Research. I found freedom that March, and I will never give it up again. If you’re heart is burning – and you know if it is or not – take your first step to follow it today. And another step tomorrow. And so on. And one day years from now, you’ll be glad you can look back and remember when you finally followed your heart and gained your freedom.