[This post is part of a series on The Model — my model for the human emotional system designed for use in leadership, self-awareness, and general purpose professional and personal development — which I find the most effective and valuable foundation for understanding yourself and others and improving your life. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Creating a lifestyle you want by bringing about the emotions you want is an art. I’ve written a lot about the craft — the functional view of emotions, which is useful for bringing about emotions you want. Let’s talk about the art today.
The functional view may sound more analytical and less fun and less emotional than the romanticized view, but it’s the starting point, like playing scales for musicians or learning basic footwork for musicians.
Have you learned a partner dance like a tango, salsa, or swing? Classes begin with where to put your hands, where to move your feet, what to listen to in the music. To a beginner it sounds analytical and formulaic, the opposite of dancing as an art. But artistic expression and freedom come through practice. As Martha Graham put it
[Dance] requires discipline, not drill, not something imposed from without, but discipline imposed by you yourself upon yourself. … Your goal is freedom. But freedom may only be achieved through discipline. In the studio you learn to conform, to submit yourself to the demands of your craft, so that you may finally be free.
You begin with practice and discipline of conforming. But your result is freedom and joy. I believe no other way exists to reach that goal, which is, I think, what Martha Graham said.
Managing your emotions works the same way. You start with drills and exercises and end with freedom and joy.
So for all my talk of the functional view, the goal is freedom, which brings joy. Understanding the Model and therefore myself (and implementing the Method) has brought me more freedom and joy than anything else in life. It has also made me resilient to manipulation by others — often the opposite of freedom.
Great dancers still think about their footwork — more than their fancy spin moves. Great musicians play scales. I’ve found people who are the best at things focus the most on simple basics that intermediates eschew to appear fancy. In fact, experts tend to say the fancy stuff is just extensions of the basics. But while the greats do focus on basic details, what they do is dance. They express their emotions through their craft. They are free from the details because they’ve mastered them.
However analytical and functional my description of your emotions and how to use them now, you will use them to get freedom to express and feel your emotions through your greater facility. You’ll be free from the details by mastering them.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book