In Topography of Tears, photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher has captured duotone images of tears shed for many reasons. Dried onto a glass slide and magnified a one hundred times, the images display tears of grief, change, possibility and hope, compassion, redemption, remorse, and even from peeling onions.
“Perhaps this flow [of tears] is the very proof that we cannot put our feelings in one place and out thoughts in another, the bleak result of a certain rationalism that threatens to overtake our civility – our capacity to forgive – and wants to make all ideas into abstractions, rigid and blunt, free of secretions.”*
When we speak of our motivation, we are speaking of our feelings.
A motivation isn’t simply a thought that we put into action. The thought has to pass through our heart, through our feeling and determining. It must carry meaning for us. Erich Fromm is perhaps adding more to this when he speaks about freedom. Emerging from opening our minds and hearts:
‘Freedom is not something we have; there is no such thing as freedom. Freedom is a quality of our personality; we are more or less free to resist pressure, more or less to do what we want and to be ourselves.’**
Dan Ariely comes upon a boss who doesn’t value this intrinsic motivation. The CEO has cancelled a project without recognising the hard work or explaining why it’s been necessary. Maybe the CEO believes interesting and well-paid work is enough to be able demand anything necessary of the employees. In speaking to the engineers who’ve worked so hard and been left high and dry, Ariely tells them:
‘[I]t seems like your CEO doesn’t see the value of investing in your motivation.’^
When asked by Ariely about their working day, these same employees admitted they were turning up for work later and leaving earlier.
My reason for mentioning this is it looks like a case of feelings don’t matter at work.
Erwin McManus identifies the human quest for honour as critical: from humility to integrity to courage – an everyday courage that opens the future:
‘Our courage directly affects the speed at which the future unfolds.’^^
I mention this because humility is really about seeing ourselves in a new and more accurate way – an opening of our mind.
Integrity is about embedding this, noticing how it resonates within us – an opening of the heart.
Courage is our willingness to act upon this, to do what we must do – and opening of the will.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes how we can experience moments of mastery and meaningfulness:
”On the rare occasions it happens, we feel a sense of exhilaration, a deep sense of enjoyment that is long cherished and that becomes a landmark in memory for what life should be like.’*^
Csikszentmihalyi is touching on the everyday courage people show when he identification this as being about flow; he’s already quoted Viktor Frankl’s emphasis on happiness being “the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.”^*
‘I developed a theory of optimal experience based on the concept of flow – the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.’*^
This is not about how to get more out of people but about how to be more present, to be more human.
(*Ann Lauterbach, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: The Topography of Tears.)
(**From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Listening.)
(^From Dan Ariely’s Payoff.)
(^^From Erwin McManus’ Uprising.)
(^*Viktor Frankl, quoted in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)
(^*From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)