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Mar 18, 2020

We pay the most attention to news or a story when it surprises us –
We react to something that seems odd or seems illogical to us.

What is logical though? Logical to us means it’s sensible, consistent.
We generally consider familiarity as logical. If it’s familiar, it makes sense.
But novelty or unfamiliar things we often find confusing and deem illogical.

“Without followers, evil cannot spread.”

Fans of Star Trek have long marveled
at the tension between reason and emotion.
Implicitly Spock and Kirk’s friendship suggests
a belief in the need for both.
Reason and emotion are complements.
Spock dismissed certain propositions as “illogical” –
His way of calling it preposterous, absurd.
It’s not in anyone’s best interest;
it runs counter to our objectives.
At Microsoft, Bill Gates would blast a bad idea as “random”.
Random? Yes, random is the opposite of order. It’s chaos.
If it’s not well-reasoned then it’s random.

We’ve been talking about different modes of comprehension.
Our understanding whether rendered by reason or emotion leads to action.
Our attitudes drive behaviors.
We perceive and then decide, then take action.

When deciding, we cannot just think in a single dimension.
It’s not a single line with reason at one end and emotion at the other.
There are multiple axes for decisions…
What about drive, risk-taking, trade-offs between people and nature, rich vs poor, etc?

An illogical point of view is one that runs counter to our best interests.

Does leadership require reason or emotion?
Yes. Both.
Which does it need more of?
Usually there are managers who have knowledge
and can reason about it after years of practice.
Managers make the case. Leaders make a judgment.

When logic fails, and there’s no clear answer.
Someone has to make a call.
Often there’s not enough time to calculate all the possibilities.
A gut reaction is called for.
Here we see Kirk do something, he does something seemingly reckless,
But ultimately the emotional response proves to have an unspoken logic.

Americans with our history of surviving and thriving on the frontier,
With our needing to deal with unknowns, uncertainties and unwilling adversaries
Are prone to trust our feelings and intuitions.
There are just too many unknowns and the situations too novel.
To rely on conventions or tradition on the frontier is to risk death.

So does that mean we don’t need to be
deliberate, thoughtful and slow sometimes?
We clearly do. That’s what scientists and researchers,
in a thousand specialties, must do.
So that’s the paradox, isn’t it?
We need reason and passion. We need a corps of elite thinkers.
In academics and in industry.
We have these people. We just ignore them in crucial moments.

That’s our challenge. To give voice to expertise.
To govern by data and facts and reason.
But more than that – to motivate the population to “take the medicine”.
To do the right things in the long view.

Leonard Nimoy appears in Columbo