Have you ever found yourself so caught up in logic, company policy, rules or specific goals that you lose sight of yourself? Or maybe you have difficulty making decisions or performing, and you begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, angry or completely ineffective … like you can’t do anything at all?

There might be a simple explanation for this: you’re out-of-balance in your decision-making process. Meaning, your natural tendency to make decisions with your head is in direct conflict with the actions your heart wants to take. A little confusing? Let me explain.

li-na-60-minutesI was watching 60 Minutes recently, and there was a segment profiling Li Na, the former professional tennis player and 14-time Grand Slam champion from China. She retired last year due to knee injuries after having been ranked No. 2 in the world.

What makes Li Na’s story so remarkable, besides her extraordinary achievements on the court, is the personal and psychological battles she fought not only within herself, but within a country known for its rigorous and unforgiving state-run athletic programs.

Her journey is complicated (see the interview here), and she ultimately prevailed, but not until she bucked the Chinese system, listened to her heart, and stood up for herself. Even then, it wasn’t easy. She ultimately hired a new coach who encouraged Li to face her personal demons, which included confronting her former childhood coach who had left such a negative mark on her psyche.

Until Li better understood her internal conflict, she was unable to realize her true potential, despite her best physical efforts. This same theme effects most of us at one point or another … at work, at home and within personal relationships.

I was speaking with my good friend and coaching colleague Brooke Crosley recently, and she relayed a similarly-themed story about a client who was having trouble meeting his sales numbers. “Bob” was so focused on the bottom line, he was suffering from stress and underperformance, feeling stuck and ineffective.

Through Brooke’s guidance, Bob came to realize that his work performance is not just about sales numbers, goals and business achievements; it’s also about what is happening on the inside – his heart, intuition, needs and beliefs. You can work as hard as you can to be a model employee, partner or friend … but unless you are also following your heart, you won’t become the best you you can possibly be.

What do you think?

Have you ever felt “stuck” and unproductive because you were listening too much to your head and not enough to  your heart? I’d love to hear more about it. How did you get unstuck, and what lessons did you learn? Please share your story below.


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