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02 Apr 14

Does Being Strategic Make You Heartless?

Being strategic can bring you freedomDoes the word “strategic” bring you out in a cold sweat?

If you act from your heart and love to say “YES!” and flow with life, the idea of being calculated in how you share your passion may feel icky.

If you love to show up and see what happens, or share without thought of what might come back, strategy might feel at odds with that.

Let me share a secret

People tell me things they wouldn’t say to you.

When they know I hold everything as confidential, they say, “Truthfully? I’m exhausted. I’m burning out. I’m giving, giving, giving… without receiving.” They say, “I hate to admit this, but I’m starting to feel resentful of all these people who get stuff from me for free and don’t think I might actually need something in return.”

So, if you’re feeling any of this, you’re not alone.

But it leaves us with a dilemma. How can you stay open-hearted, but also get what you need?

What strategy really does for us

When you’re starting your business, your might feel an abundance of energy and it feels right to say YES! to everything. You’re excited about sharing your gifts, your desire to help is pouring out. But when you start reaching capacity and tipping into overwhelm, strategy can be a tremendous relief.

Strategy gets us intentional.

Strategy is about thinking things through, and thinking ahead.

Strategy means our cool head is looking after our passionate heart.

Strategy is about making clean decisions.

Strategy is about saying NO to certain people, requests and tasks.

I think about fire. We use a grate, we use a candle holder, to support and hold the heat and the light. Do we see that as heartless?

I think about sex. I picture a heterosexual couple, keen to make love but to not get pregnant. I see that without discussing how they’ll prevent pregnancy, it’ll be difficult for them to let go and be fully present with each other, in mind, body and spirit. Do we consider them heartless?

I think about being asked to give a talk. I’ve found it’s wise to get a clear, fair agreement in place; without that, something nags away at me and interferes with my relationship with the host and my sense of being taken care of. Is that heartless?

A sharp business mind takes care of a loving, generous heart

Without structures, boundaries, strategy and agreements, I’ve found it can actually be harder to stay in open-hearted connection. If we’re not confident our needs are going to be met, our focus is likely to go there, rather than to the relationship. When we know the deal, when we’re clear on the set-up, it’s easier to feel safe and free.

This is the paradox. Planning helps us go with the flow. Thinking about the future helps us be in the present. Being strategic in what we’re sharing holds open the channel for free sharing.

To serve the most people, in the most abundant ways, and to enjoy the most abundance flowing our way in return, it feels good to get strategic. It’s a decision from the heart.

Over to you

Have you said “yes” unstrategically… and then felt burnt out? Have you got resentful from giving without knowing how your needs will be met? I’d love to hear how you see the relationship between heart and strategy, so leave a comment below, let us know.

When heart meets strategy

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs recently, in preparation for the next group of Blog for Clients participants; many have heart and soul yet aren’t set up to lead to sales.

If you want to be savvy in your marketing, and don’t want to waste time on activities which bring nothing in return, then discover how to blog strategically. Blog for Clients opens for enrollment soon; get front of the queue here.


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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes 2014

Photo Credit: Josef Grunig / Flickr / Creative Commons

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  1. Lisa McLoughlin

    Yes, I am at that place now in my business… Last year was an unfolding adventure with no specific plans….now I have learned how strategy is key to survival . Mixing that with an open heart is a powerful mix. Still a bit stop and start and experimental with strategy…but know it holds the key to sustainability. Thanks for this xxx

    1. Corrina

      Lisa – Love that you use the word “sustainability”. Strategy helps make business sustainable financially AND emotionally – both so important.

  2. Caroline Hearst

    This is so interesting. I mainly train non-autistic people about autism but have an autistic client who comes to see me to better understand his autism. Despite being really committed to the work he has trouble getting there on time and as I know he has a difficult life and problems with time keeping are part of autism I have felt I “should” let him stay later to make up the time he misses. In fact I now realise that difficult as it seemed at first, this sticking to boundaries keeps us both safer, I am able to be genuinely present and generous in the time we have, he is grateful, is learning to accept more responsability and I am not resentful or letting my life by impacted by his issues.

    I think strategy and boundaries are good scaffolding for being open without becoming empty.

    1. Karen J

      High Five, Caroline! 🙂

    2. Corrina

      Caroline – Yes, yes, yes. I can feel the service you are doing for your client by holding this boundary – it’s for his sake, as well as yours. “Open without empty” – love it.

    3. Christine Durrant

      Caroline, I so understand where you are coming from with feeling you needed to make up the time even though it wasn’t your fault your client was late. I have fallen into that trap many times and then I realized, like you, that we need to stick by our original plan.

      In my case I found that clients did not necessarily appreciate that I was keeping going longer as they were tired and wanted to stop. It can also be that we simply reinforce unhelpful behaviour in our clients which doesn’t help them to move forward.

  3. Danielle Anderson

    Great post, Corrina! It got me thinking about the word “strategy” and how it may cause some people to run and hide. With my main program called “Six Steps for Getting Strategic” I wonder if the name puts people off because of this icky feeling associated with “strategy”. I’ll be interested in hearing what others think of the word!

    1. Leda Sammarco

      Hi Danielle, I know what you mean about the word ‘strategic’, but then planning and focus are important. Maybe you could add something else that explains the benefits of getting strategic, so that it references head and heart. Reading your comment also reminded me of the phrase ’emotional intelligence’ – now such a familiar term, but initially the two words can seem at odds with each other, although most intriguing. Maybe there is something similar you could do with the word strategy/strategic? Just a thought!

    2. Corrina

      Danielle – I crave strategy so the word is very appealing/attractive to me. I can almost feel my brain sharpening, just reading the word! Let’s see what others say…

  4. Leda Sammarco

    Great post, Corrina. I sometimes find it’s the other way around for me, and that I can be too strategic, weighing up the pros and cons and checking in from a heart-place last of all. Often though, we get a feeling first of all and then need to step back and evaluate it, so that head and heart can move forward in tandem. Just this morning, I was offered a guest blogging opportunity – I got excited and said yes, and then later turned it down, when I actually realised what was involved. My heart had reacted to what I initially thought was on offer. However, when I read the email properly I realised it didn’t feel right. I think it’s also key to slow down and then it’s easier to check in with a cool heart and a warm heart.

    1. Corrina

      Leda – Interesting. Have you read the book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek? I love his references to neuroscience in terms of how we make decisions: the neocortex vs. the limbic brain.

  5. Janelle

    This is great! A few years back I was babysitting from my home and I had a client who after awhile started under paying me and wouldn’t pay me on time. I put up with it for awhile but I eventually got too resentful to watch her child anymore. I feel like I should have been upfront about the issue but I didn’t want to come across as cold and heartless as you say. Lesson learned.

    1. Corrina

      Janelle – Ah, it’s such a shame when agreements get murky and that affects the care with which we feel able to do our work. I’d be interested to hear what happens if you try the upfront approach next time 🙂

  6. Christine Durrant

    Thanks for this post Corrina. As usual you are spot on with your blog. I have been so desperate to help people that I have often put my own needs aside. It leads to disappointment and disillusionment and the feeling that you have been taken advantage of.

    I am learning to let my head and heart complement each other so I don’t feel used and I am able to enjoy my work and give of my best.


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