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Empathy, Passion, and Progress: An Existential View of Valentine's Day

02/13/2015 05:06 pm ET | Updated Apr 15, 2015

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Here you'll find a mosaic of meaning and beauty that I hope will allow and foster depth. It is my belief that the more connected one is to his/her core ~ the better one can care for their personal ecosystem.

Empathy begins with self.

1) #Love: Why We Need Each Other "Recent research reveals that people are more capable of mental novelty when thinking on behalf of others than for themselves. This has far-reaching practical implications at every level of business." Thus spoke, Daniel Pink.

2) #Love: A Darwinian Theory of Beauty "Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? No, it's deep in our minds. It's a gift handed down from the intelligent skills and rich emotional lives of our most ancient ancestors. Our powerful reaction to images, to the expression of emotion in art, to the beauty of music, to the night sky, will be with us and our descendants for as long as the human race exists." Thus spoke, Denis Dutton.

3) #Love: 8 Rules for Creating Passionate Work Culture with @FastCompany highlights some key themes from Paul Alofs @Alofs Passion Capital "Creeds don't need to be the same in order to be effective. On the contrary, sometimes they need to evolve to address a changing environment. Company leaders need to take a hard look at what the company was when it began and what it has become and make necessary adjustments. Part of being a great leader is understand when to reassess a course of action and when to stay the course."

4) #Love: The Four Loves "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable." ― C.S. Lewis

5) #Love: Perspective with @TeresaFritschi "There is, someplace, for each of us a soul capable of seeing ours as clearly as their own, whose beginning and end can be found at the end of both sentences and fingertips, the realization of an unwillingness to compromise as manifest in human flesh that protects and nurtures and transcends dimensions. This love, no more perfect than any other, is perhaps the most illusive. Maybe because it is so rare is why we value it so highly when the universe opens up and places it squarely in front of us.

6) #Love: Empathy is a muscle and can be strengthened and developed like any other muscle. One way to foster empathy is through the reading of robust fiction.

"Psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, at the New School for Social Research in New York, have proved that reading literary fiction enhances the ability to detect and understand other people's emotions, a crucial skill in navigating complex social relationships."

7) #Love: We have gone from the "need to have" towards the "need to share" and the collaborative economy has passed its tipping point. An early voice of this movement is Jeremy Rifkin who was the very first to frame the phrase "empathic civilization" -- (RSA) (transcript) "A new science is emerging whose operating principles and assumptions are more compatible with empathic ways of thinking. The old science views nature as objects; the new science views nature as relationships. The old science is characterized by detachment, expropriation, dissection, and reduction; the new science is characterized by engagement, replenishment, integration, and holism. The old science is committed to making nature productive; the new science to making nature sustainable. The old science seeks power over nature; the new science seeks partnership with nature. The old science puts a premium on autonomy from nature; the new science on re-participation with nature."

8) #Love: While we talk about empathy and moral codes of behavior - there are limits to what we are capable of. Christian Keysers is helping us understand these limits The Empathic Brain by Christian Keysers " Where neuroscience is interesting, is by showing us the limits of our natural empathy, and helping us devise ethics that are compatible with how our brain works. For instance, our work shows that we feel what goes on in others by projecting what we would feel in their stead. In this context, ethics that suggest 'treat others as they would like to be treated' are harder to follow than ethics that suggest 'treat others as you would like to be treated."

What kind of passion do you have? Great question posed by Deloitte's @JohnHagel "Passion, performance and potential - these three weave together into a seamless web. Whether we come at it from the perspective of achieving more of our untapped potential or from the perspective of driving performance to ever higher levels, passion is the necessary foundation. Without it, our potential will remain exactly that - latent within us, something that we can only imagine but will never experience."

9) #Love: Still resonate after 2002 Fast Company article and way before the API landscape Love is the Killer App by @sanderssays "The most powerful force in business isn't greed, fear, or even the raw energy of unbridled competition. The most powerful force in business is love. It's what will help your company grow and become stronger. It's what will propel your career forward. It's what will give you a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your work, which will help you do your best work."

10) #Love: I am a realist and know that we have work to do in the areas of fostering empathy, strengthening our capacity to collaborate, and understanding the new levels of isolation the digital culture fosters. I want to end this series with the shadow side of the conversation Lethality of Loneliness: How it Can Ravage Your Body and Brain "At a deeper level, though, loneliness research forces us to acknowledge our own extraordinary malleability in the face of social forces. This susceptibility is both terrifying and exhilarating. On the terrifying side is the unhappy fact that isolation, especially when it stems from the disenfranchisement of the underprivileged, creates a bodily limitation all too easily reproduced in each successive generation."

Here is my Valentine to you:

"When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides."

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love & Light,

♥Jennifer