What's Love Got To Do With It?
What is our problem with love?
We write off excitement about celebrations of love such as royal weddings with cynicism describing it as schmaltz or extravagant frippery. Wryly declaring ourselves republicans and therefore unmoved by such nonsense. Pastor Michael Curry preaching of love with such brazen fierce passion and conviction at the wedding of Harry and Meghan seemed to divide opinion. I watched while looking for those who were smiling and nodding – those are my people. But I saw a real mix of reactions. Some joyful agreement and connection with his message. Some unsure, confused – what was this open, powerful, soaring expression of love at such a formal British occasion? Some people watching him reacted with uncomfortable, verging on angry, indignation.
In business, and too often in life, we pretend Love is insignificant, unserious, not where the weighty important stuff is. I had a conversation about Oxytocin (the neurochemical of connection, trust and – yes – love) with someone who had recently embarked on an Applied Neuroscience course. She was so determined to lecture me on the negative effects of this hormone. As if by acknowledging it’s power and beauty it would somehow diminish her own credibility.
I once suggested introducing a conversation about the emotional spectrum and the neurochemicals that fuel it to a leader whose team I was working with. We ran through Anger, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Joy, Trust… so far so good. We got to Love. He imploded. “Don’t talk to them about Love!! I don’t want them to love each other!! I just need them to work together”.
I don’t need them to love each other.
It’s exactly what we need. Organisations are cortisol factories – fear, stress, anger, control. Don’t tell me we don’t need connection and compassion. Don’t tell me we don’t need more love in life AND in work. It’s the glue that binds us. It’s the thing that gives us strength. It is the root of connection, of compassion and of collaboration. It’s a thing of inspiration and joy. If you want engagement, you want inclusion, you want to move people, then you want love in some form. Don’t tell me love has nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with it.
I talk of emotion and connection quite a bit. Possibly more than your average Coach or HR or Change professional. More than your average Brit. As a result I’m often reacted to as lacking weight, intellect or understanding of how the world really works. A very well respected and serious HR Director recently described me as ‘Ethereal’.
I know what’s important. I see what’s at the heart of it all. Love. And fear. Fear of the power of Love. Fear of the vulnerability of Love. Fear of the potential of Love. You know it too. You know that what is holding you back from smiling at a stranger, speaking what’s in your heart, doing a kind but brave thing, standing up for what is right, connecting with the human instead of hiding behind the data and the technology and the money is fear. But what sits underneath all that, waiting for you to screw your courage to the sticking post, is Love.
It’s there. It is always there. It’s an invitation and a sanctuary. It will provide more power, more energy, more velocity than any safe, academic, data-driven, tech-led, glory-hunting intervention that you are pinning your hopes to.
It can resonate across boundaries, and bridge divides. All the resilience and creativity that you’re looking for exists there. All the solutions are there, if only we would be brave enough and honest enough to admit it.