Archives for posts with tag: Emotion

When I was a kid, one of the most important motivations with parents was not to disappoint. It the wasn’t fear of reprisal if you got into trouble, did something wrong or underperformed. It was something much worse. They would be ‘disappointed’. Letting them down, letting yourself down; it was the crushing weight of potential disappointment that made me toe the line or do my best.

The D-Word was a very powerful motivation and a force for good in my upbringing. I didn’t want people I respected to be disappointed. In me, or for me.

Disappointment is still a motivating force now. I went to see my physio about a month ago for my troublesome calf that I thought I’d fixed with my change in running style, but no. She gave me a series of core-strengthening exercises to do 3 times a week before I saw her again four weeks later. They were very hard work, bordering on the murderous at times. I exaggerate, but not too much. I didn’t want to go to the gym and do them, but I did, mainly because I knew she’d be disappointed if I’d not kept my side of the bargain and put the effort in.

When there’s a level of respect on both sides, the potential disappointment that one party will feel when the other party hasn’t made the effort is a strong incentive for the first party to do the work.

The D-Word is a word not used lightly, and carries much weight.

I suppose everyone has a shortlist of favourite songs that have stayed with them over the years, to become not just their top 5 songs in a specific category, but of all time. Songs that can be relied upon to lift them, tug at the heart strings, and get them in the right frame of mind, when they feel they can accomplish just about anything.

I decided to write this post so that I could finally commit to memory its composer, since I’ve never heard the original in full, only its most famous part. Adagio for Strings was written by Samual Barber in 1936, and has featured in many other reproductions since. For instance, who could forget the scene involving Willem Dafoe’s character left on the ground by departing helicopters in the 1986 film Platoon. Some of its bars are among the most famous in classical music, achingly beautiful and haunting at the same time.

Where I’m most familiar with the piece is as a sample of a dance song of the same name by the Dutch DJ Tiësto. The video is in a club holding what looks like about 50,000 rapt attendees – oh, to have been there. I’m listening to it as I write this post. It starts with super fast beats that make you feel you’re invincible and then the adagio sample cuts in to make you stop, remember and yearn for those that are no longer with you. The song then lifts off again, reworking the handful of notes from the sample to a mesmerising close.

It’s magic stuff, giving off a huge, non-chemically induced high. I shall never tire of it I think. Probably my number 2 song of all time.


I was in France for a family holiday recently, and it got me thinking about how many French phrases we’ve incorporated into English. I mistakenly wrote ‘thinning’ on my first pass at this post, which is what I need to do after a fortnight of sublime croissants, brioches and baguettes has turned me from svelte to felt.

Déjà vu is a prime example of such a phrase, where a combination of visual stimuli brings back a memory where we pocketed exactly the same combination – or something very close – a long time ago. It’s quite a powerful thing.

Even more powerful I think is the recollection we get from one of the other more minor senses, namely smell. The smell of a certain food can instantly bring us back to our childhood. There is also a certain foul smell that makes me think of the smell of burnt bones from the glue factory near my childhood home. The smell of cinnamon always makes me think of Christmas shops in the mid-west US around December time – obviously…

It often occurs to me how compelling a force smell would be in marketing, even B2B marketing, away from the food and drink-related B2C areas where it is already deployed to great effect. ‘If you could bottle that’, as they say.

I don’t think the French would use the phrase, but if they did it would be ‘déjà senti’, I suppose, meaning ‘already smelled’. Doesn’t have the same ring unfortunately.

When you’re in a discussion about something, and in descends into an argument, it inevitably becomes emotional. This is especially true and unhelpful in business.

In these situations you tend to get a lot of ‘heat’ and not much ‘light’. In other words, there’s too much emotion and not enough inspiration.

I have a short temper and I find it’s easy for me to let a discussion descend into something unhealthy. There should be no room for emotion when you’re trying to fix or improve something, yet we find it very hard not to give it a seat at the table.

I find it much easier to do in business, but you have to demote emotion and recognise it for what it is, an instinctive response to change, stress, and a loss of control. The better you can remove emotion from the equation, the easier it is to get the right answer, to get the sums to add up.

There is a certain type of person, a certain type of character, that it’s unhealthy to be around for too long. I call this person the Good Vibe Vortex, or GVV for short.

The GVV is not a positive person. Stuff happens to the GVV. Sometimes it’s of their own making, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes they don’t even know they are a GVV, sometimes they do.

The GVV is hard work, they’re painful company. They suck away your positivity like a hoover, and you can feel your good vibes, your good energy, the great mood you were in, ebbing away. They are depleting your life force. It’s not simply what they say, there’s something about their whole aura that spells ‘d-o-w-n-e-r’.

This person is not always as obvious as the blue character in the film Inside Out but you get a feeling pretty quickly that they are someone who sees only – and therefore gets bogged down by – the sad, the hurdles, the difficulty. And lo and behold, the self-fulfilling prophecy occurs and stuff happens to them again, taking you with it if you’re not careful.

Yes, beware the GVV. Beware the invasion of the good vibe-snatchers…