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Jonathan Mariano headshot

Chip Conley on Becoming Your Own CEO: Chief Emotions Officer

All too often in the workplace (and maybe even just life), we are asked to push our emotions aside and focus at the task at hand.  But emotions are part of being human and part of human interactions.  It is important not only to be emotionally aware, not only emotionally intelligent, but emotionally fluent to pinpoint such feelings that may hurt or help us succeed.

Last week, Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre, spoke during a Sustainable Business Council Los Angeles event.  Despite his decades of success as a boutique hotelier, he opened up about not only of his personal struggles, but also his insights that lead to his latest book, Emotional Equations.

“We are living through an era where we are all being asked to be CEOs, Chief Emotions Officer,”  says Conley.  It was through understanding his emotions via emotional equations that helped him get through a period of struggle in his life.

Despair = Suffering - Meaning
During the recent economic crisis, Conley felt he was in despair.  He was attempting to weather his organization through a bad economy (for a second time), had several of his good friends commit suicide, and was even contemplating suicide himself, note in hand.  Even after giving a leadership speech where he was to lift spirits, he flat lined on stage.  His emotions were getting the better of him.

Understanding despair through one of the emotional equations practically saved his life.  “This was my lifeline: Despair = Suffering - Meaning,”  says Conley.  Why was he in such despair?  We must recognize the constant, suffering.  There is always suffering, there are things that we cannot control.  On the other hand, there are things we can control.  One such variable is meaning.  “Increase the meaning, decrease the despair.”

Curiosity = Wonder + Awe
Perhaps despite his setbacks, Conley found not only new meaning, but a new curiosity in his life, collecting and/or co-developing what he calls emotional equations.  But these equations just didn’t come out of no where, nor did he develop them on his own.  “There have been equations, but no one has ever popularized it,“  says Conley.

Conley researched hundreds of books on the subject of specific emotions.  He even ventured to collaborate with the experts on emotions in the field of psychology, asking them to share and/or create an emotional equation.  So far, there are about twenty emotional equations.

Happiness = Gratitude / Gratification
Yes, there is also an equation for the ultimate goal in life: happiness.  Reworking this equation: Happiness = Wanting what you have / Having what you want.  Conley suggests, “[The] fastest to get happiness: get gratitude.  Express the gratitude. Practicing gratitude is part of the way to incorporate happiness in their life every day.”  There are tons of things that we may want, which may make us said.  But too often we are not thankful for the things we already have.

We often talk about sustainability in the context of the environment.  But perhaps sustainability runs deeper.  Conley proposes, “To me, the most sustainable practice I have is that I am mastering my emotions.”  So, what do you think?  Should emotion be cast aside, or should it be mastered and understood to help us succeed?  Do we need a CEO (Chief Emotions Officer) for our own life?

Image Credit: Emotional Equations book cover via: www.emotionalequations.com.

Jonathan Mariano headshotJonathan Mariano

Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

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