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Charlie Mullins: Labour leadership battle and Ashes victory show passion rules over emotion

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Read any interview with an entrepreneur and they will reveal they are passionate about their business and passionate about being an entrepreneur.

And quite right too. Having a passion for something sets you apart. People passionate about running are more likely to be found doing laps of the park than those who aren’t, and business owners who are passionate about their business are more likely to be a success than those who just treat it like a job.

However, there is a fine line between passion and emotion, which is why it’s so important to differentiate between the two – because pure emotion can distract people from the facts. 

Just look at the Labour leadership battle. Emotions seem to be getting the better of those eligible to vote, as evidenced by Jeremy Corbyn heading the field with policies that promise better lives for all by re-nationalising energy, rail, and even suggesting putting Tony Blair on trial over his part in the Iraq war.

Clearly I don’t have much admiration for Corbyn’s brand of anti-business rhetoric, but it’s impossible not to recognise the strong emotion behind what he’s advocating. And I think it’s the emotive power of his genuinely-held beliefs that seems to have convinced many traditional Labour voters and others that what he’s selling will work, despite the evidence of past. 

Emotion, it seems, has taken over to the point where despite the more sane candidates, most of whom realise that state run energy and railway utilities are not the answer, are trailing in the polls. And should this raw emotion continue unchecked, I predict it won’t end well for the Labour party. 

It’s also worth mentioning the Ashes – after all, everyone is talking about it, and quite rightly too. But just look at what the cricket pundits were saying before the first ball was bowled in Cardiff. 

Most were writing that Australia already had the series in the bag and might as well keep the little urn packed up in their Qantas Airlines flight bag. England had been playing okay recently, so they wrote, but weren’t the world-beaters that could topple the mighty Aussies. 

But our cricketers didn’t let emotions get in the way of the facts. They focused on the wickets, the conditions and the skills and weaknesses of their opponents to get the better of them. Of course, it doesn’t always go to plan as the second test proved. But they continued to passionately believe in the fact that in English conditions their technical ability with bat and ball was superior to the emotional hype surrounding Michael Clarke’s Australians.

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So, back to business. When making decisions that affect a business, from hiring and firing staff to choosing suppliers, emotion has to be put to one side.

For example, every week I am contacted by potential suppliers who have the “next big thing” that can improve my business or what I offer my customers. 

From app designers and telecoms providers, to manufacturers of water-saving plumbing products, they all come in with the razzle dazzle and fancy patter, but I have to look behind their smoke and mirrors to be sure their business is robust.

What if a company I buy an app from to allow customers to book plumbing jobs on their phones goes up the swanny? Or even more seriously, a telecoms provider which has control of one of my most important sales tools – my business phone number – goes to the wall, leaving me high and dry?

What they are offering might be the best thing since sliced bread, but I’m not a caveman discovering fire for the first time. I’ve been around the block a few times and, as all business owners should do, must be sure the decision is made for the right reasons that will benefit the business and not damage its reputation, operations or financial security.

Emotional reactions to situations can put businesses at risk. Entrepreneurs need to be detectives and assess the facts in front of them. Like Joe Friday would say in American cop show Dragnet: “Just the fact’s ma’am, just the facts.”

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