Cognitive dissonance is a powerful psychological force.
It’s the mental discomfort we experience when holding two contradictory beliefs.
Like when an entrepreneur has the opportunity to engage in a business deal that makes economical sense, but at the same time, feels opposed to his self image.
Should he pull the trigger on this new project, or pass on the deal?
Should artistic sensibility take a backseat to commercial consideration, or should he put his foot down in defense of his soul?
Christina’s pop song comes to mind:
My heart is saying no, but my body is saying let’s go.
Those lyrics are cheesier than a parmesan milkshake, but that doesn’t make them wrong. Ask anyone who has had a moment of cognitive dissonance before. If the genie wants out of the bottle, you gotta rub him the right way.
One of my old friends has spent her entire career working in the tobacco industry. She doesn’t smoke, and she’s fully aware that cigarettes are the number one preventable cause of death in our country. But she’s also a remarkable leader who does valuable work with her growers, whose customers and team members look up to her, and whose life is deeply fulfilling.
Sleeping at night isn’t a problem for her, because she’s learned how to manage her cognitive dissonance in a way that makes her feel okay with herself.
That’s a skill worth building, regardless of the kind of work we do. Having a deep awareness of your contradictory feelings, and still be able to make a contribution in spite of them, that’s real power.
Do you find yourself at the crossroads of integrity and practicality?
You’re not alone in your suffering. Cognitive dissonance comes for all of us eventually. The key is to make sure we’re not becoming numb to our own desires in the name of being sensible. To make sure we’re not missing out on valuable opportunities by convincing ourselves of our own moral superiority.
But the reality is, when our heart says no, and our body says let’s go, sometimes we have to let that genie out of the bottle and see what kind of wishes we can convince him to grant for us.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
If you had the chance to sell out before you burned out, would you take it?