The Brilliant Mind and Broken Heart of a Leader

My mind is bright and shining and brilliant.

It is precise and powerful and insightful.

But my heart.

Oh man, my heart is messsssssssssed up.

My heart is scared and wounded and angry.

My heart is defended and resentful and victimy.

My heart is 3 years old and 5 years old and 10 years old and throwing a tantrum inside a department store, grocery store, and at school all at once.

My heart has every reason to be messy.

It’s been stepped on by the world and the dreams that didn’t come true and the hopes that faded and the loves that left and the teachers that tried to get me to be like the other kids and by my parents who tried to get me to be quiet and well behaved.

It’s all their fault, these people who ignored my heart, and it’s not their fault, because in each moment they were ignoring their own, or doing their best to show me a way that someone else showed them. And for a while now I’ve felt my heart aching.

But my mind has been brilliant enough to cover it up.

It knows just how to put the Instagram filters on my life, paint the portrait of success and growth that adds just enough nobility to my pain and humility to my victories to make it look like you’re getting all of me.

But it’s damn sure that you’re not.

You’re NOT getting all of me.

Not by a long shot.

Because my heart has a secret dysfunctional agenda.

There’s so much inside of me that I’m a mess. And this mess trumps my brilliance and awareness—and self—whenever it wants.

Because hearts always trump minds. Despite what Star Trek taught me about the human condition.

And I’m just hoping that no one notices my broken heart behind my brilliant mind.

But a funny thing happens when I look around. At the other CEOs, the other leaders, with their tribes and success. Some of them seem to have full hearts and a self-possessed knowledge of happiness.

But mostly they are like me. Shiny on the outside, tattered on the inside. Hoping to make their lives and their businesses move just fast enough so that they and we won’t notice how broken their hearts truly are.

This fact bolsters me, but it also bums me out.

Because in a world so ready to hide our broken hearts behind our brilliant minds, healing takes a back seat to achievement. And thus suffering becomes a comfortable commodity on which to build a castle of success.

They say if you make more than $75,000 a year you are happier than most people. But $75k won’t heal a broken heart any more than $75 million will. Just look at Elon Musk.

Which is why, if your heart is broken, success be damned, it’s time to look at it and be with it, no matter the cost.

Because a broken heart witnessed and nourished and shared, is a more powerful foundation for leadership, than any brilliant mind, or lofty cause, or list of names in a database can ever be.