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Marshall & Friends

Stop Looking for Logic

The world is not a particularly rational place. We humans are profoundly illogical. Otherwise, wars would never begin. Still, we devote many of our waking hours to trying to find logic in situations where none exists. Our minds need order and fairness and justice. But much of life is neither fair nor just.

That’s a problem for many of us—and it kills our mojo.

If I had to pick educational backgrounds that breed employees who excessively look for logic, I would nominate engineers, scientists, computer programmers, and math majors (I was a math major and went to an undergraduate engineering school).

Many of us, as spouses and partners, lose mojo at home because of our persistent need to be right and prove that our partners are wrong in pointless arguments. Once we make peace with the fact that all decision are made by real people—not logical people—life gets easier. We make more of a positive difference and feel happier.


Some years ago, a friend named Tim was working as a producer at a cable channel. He was in charge of all evening programming—and felt he was on track to run the channel someday. Then the corporate parent installed a woman from headquarters as Tim’s boss. She had no experience in broadcasting, but she was adept at impressing her superiors, providing good quotes to the media, and shaping her executive persona.

Tim hated her immediately. He fought with her and complained about her incessantly to colleagues, making no effort to mask his contempt. Tim believed that in a logical world, her shallowness would be exposed and Tim’s brilliance rewarded. He thought his superior broadcasting expertise served as a powerful shield, more powerful than his boss’s power to fire him anytime she wanted. He didn’t count on running out of time. Within a year, she got fed up with Tim’s belligerence and sent him packing. A year later, her ineptitude caught up with her and she got the boot, too. Tim may have been right about her, but that was small consolation. He had lost his job—and his mojo.

Remember our friend, Tim, the next time that your need to be “logical” or “right” overcomes your common sense.


If you’re looking for your own view of logic to win the day, you may be looking in the wrong place. If you focus on making a positive difference, instead of just being satisfied with feeling “right,” you will benefit both your company and your career. You may ultimately increase, rather than damage, your mojo.

At home, a common message from ministers to newly married couples is, “Would you rather be right—or have a happy marriage?”

The next time you pride yourself on your superior “logic” and damage relationships with the people that you need at work—or the people that you love at home—ask yourself, “How logical was that?”

Marshall Goldsmith is an expert in leadership who was ranked as one of the field's 15 most influential business thinkers in a study involving 35,000 respondents that was published by The Times of London and Forbes. Goldsmith's books have sold more than a million copies and have been translated into 25 languages. His best selling books include What Got You Here Won't Get You There (also a Longman Award Winner for business book of the year) and MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back If You Lose It. His newest book, written with Don Brown and Bill Hawkins, is What Got You Here Won't Get You There in Sales (McGraw-Hill, 2011)

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