Follow Your Heart


There comes a time when you have to find the answer within. Every leader will eventually face a situation where there are two or more equally reasonable options to choose between.

The film Thirteen Days (2000, New Line Cinema), based on the book by Robert Kennedy, describes the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, when the president, John F. Kennedy, was facing the horrible prospect of World War III. The Soviets were placing nuclear arms on Cuba, within close firing range of the United States, and the ships bearing the missiles were steaming ahead across the Atlantic. They had to be stopped. What to do? In the movie, Robert Kennedy says: ‘We got a bunch of smart guys. We lock ’em up together in there, kick ’em in the ass til they come up with options.’

And yes, the experts and advisers do come back with two options. One is using aggressive military force against the Soviets and the other option is more peaceful. It all comes back to President Kennedy, who has to choose between an air strike or a blockade.

There will be situations for every leader where an equally strong case can be made for several options. The dilemma is that you cannot base your decision on facts and reason alone because all options are plausible and reasonable. There is no clear right or wrong. Everything is possible. What do you do? That is when you have to rely on your instincts, your values, your intuition; not what is right but what feels right.

John F. Kennedy did not go along with his joint chiefs and order an attack, which risked triggering a nuclear war. Instead he opted for the blockade and negotiations with the Soviets, and another world war was avoided. Because of the constitution of the United States, the ultimate decision and course of action was up to one single man, and the president had to follow his heart.

Be inspired by how President Kennedy handled the Cuban Missile Crisis. If the challenge of a global nuclear war can be resolved by heart, you can surely find the confidence to solve your everyday problems by following your heart, too.