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The power and limits of logic

Feb

9

2011

The power and limits of logic

I am an unapologetic Trekkie. My favorite Star Trek character was Mr. Spock, the half-Vulcan, half-Human second-in-command. His Vulcan side was all about logic. Mr. Spock was the calm, rational figure in the midst of interplanetary strife. Mr. Spock once remarked, “Nowhere am I so desperately needed as among a shipload of illogical humans.” How does logic play into leadership?

Most leaders believe that they are logical, and think they assume the role of Mr. Spock in their organizations. They think critically and act in a rational manner. Accusing a leader of behaving illogically is tantamount to insulting their integrity.

The reality is that we humans are not always rational and misuse logic in order to advance our ideas, most often without even being aware of this misstep. Our emotions are in play at times when we least suspect it. (Even Mr. Spock experienced emotional outbursts that he found quite disturbing.) What are the positive aspects of logic and how can it also limit your leadership?

Make decisions based on facts and analysis AND past experience, intuition and nonlinear thinking. Intuition isn’t mumbo jumbo; it’s tapping the innate knowledge you’ve gained over the years.

Be methodical AND don’t be a one-method leader. Use the right leadership style for the people around you – not necessarily the one that is the most comfortable. Switch up your routines periodically to refresh your thinking and even establish new neural connections. Even something as simple as using your non-dominant hand to do routine tasks (like brushing your teeth) will stimulate your brain. Examine your habits and resolve to do one thing differently each week.

Establish order and structure AND allow time for creative thought and expression. Feel like every moment of your day is planned? Make a commitment to take 15 minutes each day for free-flowing thinking and action. Take a walk, move to music and allow your mind to wander. It will find its way home, refreshed and ready for the next challenge.

Make logical arguments AND recognize that it can make you over-confident. All it takes is one flawed assumption that we judge to be true. Then a whole cascade of false assumptions are made, in the name of sound judgment. Carefully examine the assumptions that underpin your logic. Seek new insight from others who may know more than you, and be ready to abandon old, defective ideas.

Apply logic AND only apply logic where it fits. Be cautious about your leaps of logic when you strive to connect things that have no relationship (or at least not the one you ascribe). One area where logic is unreliable is human behavior. Throw in spirituality, politics and relationships – and you’ve just scratched the surface of the vast territory where logic plays a bit part. Insisting upon a 100% rational approach in these arenas is asking for frustration and bad outcomes for all.

As Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock once said, “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” Live long and prosper.

Have a question about this topic or want some input from Humanergy? Contact us!

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

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Comments (2)

  1. Hi. This is one area where it is invaluable to have someone you can bounce ideas off or simply give you a ” logic ” or a ” reality “check, including dealing with people and your values/ethics.

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