“When emotions arise, wisdom ceases,” said Lin-chi, a Chinese Zen master (d. 867). I’ve been reflecting on this quote in the light of my last post on emotions and leadership. I’ve certainly been in church meetings where emotions arose and wisdom ceased. When we are in a strongly reactive emotional state, we find it hard to make wise choices. The fight-or-flight instincts have their place, but most of us are not in a life-or-death situation very often.
Staying calm may be the better part of wisdom. Wise leaders express themselves with conviction and passion, but they are thoughtful about where and when they do so. They don’t get derailed from their goals in the heat of the moment. They don’t get anxiously defensive or lose their temper (or at least, they work on managing these tendencies in themselves). Are any of us wise leaders? Becoming wise is a process that takes a lifetime. Are you a little closer than you used to be?