Brain and Heart Management for Better Success
Bill Cottringer

The lion’s share of success and failure is mostly due to how well we manage our brains and hearts—specifically how we learn, grow and improve the thinking and feeling which drives our behavior. Psychologists have never really explained the complicated process of thinking and feeling very well, notably as to which causes which and where one stops and the other starts. They are inter-twinned and seemingly inseparable but still called different things.

The best way around this seemingly unsolvable dilemma is to consider both these things as variations of our thinking process, leaving emotionality for simpler positive and negative categories and then understanding the relevant purpose of this more basic distinction.

The simpler division deals only with one true emotion—empathy (love energy). The positive “feelings we get that lead to more optimistic thinking, are nature’s way of letting us know we are on the right path and to keep up the good work. On the other hand, negative “feelings” are a kind nudge to let us know we may not be using the right approach and probably need to rethink things to get on a better path.

Here are some useful brain and heart management strategies to be more successful in getting on the right path:

1. Your beliefs about what is true and what works best is about all you have to go on, with the unavoidable leap of faith in their correctness and the effort you put into verifying them. So, if they don’t seem to be getting you where you want to be at work, home or play, then by golly question and re-believe them! What do you have to lose?

2. Thinking and feeling are so mixed up that the safest assumption you can make about these things and all the rest of what you have stored in your brain as to what you think you know really may not be so. When you allow yourself to realize the possible truth in such an outrageous realization, you become more poised to learn what you really do need to know to be more successful. This can be a refreshing admission indeed.

3. It’s hard to reach universal agreement as to what success is in objective terms, so it really has to be highly personal and subjective. It could be that most of us feel reasonably successful if we have any sense of making progress at what we are trying to do in a relationship, work or recreational pursuit. That sense is well known and you can’t really fake it.

4. The only way to be as sure as you can on the choices before you is when your head and heart agree, which is rarely the case. The best you can do is to learn to listen to and trust you heart and intuition, back them up with what facts you can get from critical thinking, and then let go and see what happens, without pre-judging or having certain expectations. Of course, learning from the failures can provide you with the facts you didn’t get to verify your hunches, the next time around.

5. Being likeable, agreeable, accepting, understanding, honest, positive and a good listener will always help you to get along with others more easily. And every success I know about involves interpersonal relations. Sometimes you just have to hold your tongue and make a conscious effort to lose your ego and stop giving off a perception of being superior, judgmental, critical, blaming, negative, over-controlling, argumentative and dishonest.

6. Emotional intelligence is a big part of heart management. This involves growing your empathy, sensitivity towards others, self-awareness, control of your moods and thought-linked emotions, trustworthiness, motivation, and optimism as you go.

7. Critical Thinking is the only way to reclaim the driver’s seat in brain management, where you direct your brain to do things instead of being a passive victim of the brain’s many natural inefficiently with leaks and errors that lead to failure. Ways to do this include realizing: (a) you usually get what you expect (b) what you see depends upon where you are doing the looking from (c) a tentative position about the truth of something is safe ground (d) a balanced position between extremes is always safest ground (e) it is a good thing to know the few things that really are worth dying for or getting maimed over.

8. The hardest brain management skill to learn is to learn to separate yourself and your thinking-feeling from contaminating a situation by proximity alone. This takes great self-awareness to avoid because it is challenging to separate the two—self and situation—when they are really one and the same, as a whole. But brain management requires you to be the driver of the bus and not on autopilot.

9. The most difficult heart management skills involve learning to: (a) separate people from their behavior (b) increase your trustworthiness (c) control your mood when you are in a lousy one, and (d) become more humble in setting aside you ego.

10. It seems we often try too hard to get successful outcomes without slowing down to take a close look at our purpose in doing something and the approach we are using. As the saying goes, an ounce of planning is worth a pound of cure.

11. The lad of simple is where you want to be. Finding out the simple truths in life on the other side of complexity, after wading through the mucky swamps, quicksand and minefields, is what leads to sustainable success. Grabbing low hanging fruit on this side of complexity is only a temporary success at best.

12. It doesn’t really matter how well you manage your brain and heart, if you can’t communicate well. Good communication is the main currency of success and without it and any level of high mental or emotional IQ is lost in the words. Ironically, good communication often involves good listening and silence.

Consider applying any of these twelve strategies of managing your brain and heart better, to achieve more success.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President of Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security patrol, Inc. in Bellevue, WA., along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence), The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree), and Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers) Reality Repair Rx (Authors Den Publishing), and Reality Repair (Global Vision Press) Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067, 425-454-5011 or or