Head vs. Heart
A call for more feeling, less thinking in 2024
Elliot, a successful businessman, husband, and father, suffered from migraines. As they didn’t go away with painkillers, after a while, he went to consult a doctor. Turns out, the culprit was a brain tumour. Tough luck, but with a silver lining: surgery could be performed to remove it. Elliot went with the procedure, and it was successful. Or so everyone thought.
Soon after, Elliot started acting strange. He’d miss meetings at work, barely talk to his wife, and miss his kids’ school events. But most importantly, he would just not care about any of it. Eventually, he got fired, his wife left him, and he had to move in with his brother. It was thanks to his brother’s determination that they got to the bottom of things: because of the surgery, Elliot was no longer able to feel.
Head vs. heart.
Logos vs. pathos.
Information vs. intuition.
🧠 vs. 💛.
The eternal struggle between two forces—rational and intuitive—in our thinking and decision-making. As data people, we often aim for fact-driven, rational behaviour. But as Elliot’s story shows, we can’t only be rational beings. We need to feel the meaning and the consequences of our actions to make good decisions.
I shared this story because one of my 2024 goals is to spend more time in the heart space. While this objective is mainly personal, the more I think about it, the more I see its applications to my professional life, too.
When do feelings matter in data storytelling? Always.
In my data storytelling trainings, I teach the three pillars of rhetoric by Aristotle—ethos, logos, and pathos (more detail in this post). The idea behind it is that you should balance the analytical (logos) and the emotional (pathos) any time you communicate (we’ll leave ethos alone for today). Adding humour, interaction, drama, and any other non-data elements to your content not only makes it easier to digest but, based on Elliot’s story, is simply necessary.
Of course, the topic is much more deep and complicated than the summary above. But for today, let’s simply start thinking about the following question: how will you balance out the head and the heart this year?
As always, thanks so much for reading! There are almost 2,000 of us here now and I’m thrilled to embark on another year of data storytelling with you.
See you next week 💛
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