What I Learned From Psychopaths (2)


A Silicon Vally tech guru once shared with me his enthusiasm about Artificial Intelligence (AI). He explained that AI is far more than handling massive information. It can recognize human emotions, continuously “perceive” new information and make rational decisions. He concluded: “In the future, AI will be far more intelligent than humans. The problem with the human being is we are emotional. Emotion masses up everything.”

I couldn’t disagree more with his last statement.

What would a human being become without emotions?

An object or a psychopath.

Emotion is what differentiates psychopaths from other human beings. A born psychopath (v.s. learned psychopath) has a smaller amygdala. Amygdala is an important part of the limbic brain, responsible for processing emotions. With an under-grown amygdala, psychopaths cannot experience emotions. It is the incapability to feel human emotions that deprives psychopaths of feeling empathy, gratitude, guilt, and ultimately, conscience.

To cope with emotion deficit, psychopaths compensate their survival skills with highly developed cognitive capabilities, which is the reason many of them have exceptionally high IQ. When interacting with other people, they can perceive human emotions, and process such information cognitively but not experience it emotionally. Subsequently, they make rational decisions in their own best interests with the assumption that other people are mere objects (human minus emotion).

Emotion deficit not only makes psychopaths “selfish”, it prevents them from accessing the most amazing natural talent all of us have – creating from the unknown future.

When we say someone is intelligent, we often refer to that person’s left-brain thinking or cognitive capability. But that is only one of many types of human intelligence. Cognitive intelligence helps us collect, arrange, analyze, and synthesize known information from the past, but it cannot help us perceive unknown information from the future.

Our society highly values this cognitive intelligence and often over-uses it. For example, when we set a sales goal, create a financial projection or make a hiring decision based on validated past performance, we use cognitive intelligence to project the future based on past information. This can be insufficient, limiting and likely inappropriate. It is like going scuba diving but wears a tuxedo instead of a scuba gear. It rarely prepares us for the unknown future – volatility, complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity. This is where conventional organizations get stuck.

Fortunately, there is another intelligence that can guide us with intuition and wisdom needed to cope with challenges in life at any given moment. The information perceived is timely, accurate and comprehensive. It gives us the confidence to step into the unknown and to create from the future without any reference or proven track record from the past. It gives us original creativity, turning non-existence into existence. This intelligence is Spiritual Intelligence.

Unlike the cognitive intelligence, which requires education and years of practice, spiritual intelligence is something all of us were born with. It is like digging into a well of water, the water was always there. For those of us who have lost access to it, we need to remove the barrier. (More on that later)

Cognitive intelligence and spiritual intelligence have a love-and-hate relationship with each other. 🙂 Combined, they make us powerful beyond measure. Conversely, people who over-think, often the intellectual type, block the pathway to intuition and creativity. People who suppress or deny their emotions tend to burn the bridge to spiritual intelligence. We think with our mind and we perceive with our heart. Emotion is our spiritual language, the gateway to spiritual intelligence. Emotion is what makes human… human.

Without emotion, psychopaths cannot create from the unknown future, where extraordinary possibilities exist. Instead, they survive on what has already been created. True to their realities, they live in a zero-sum-gain mental world with “limited” resources. To thrive in this world, their option is to gain an unfair advantage by covertly or overtly controlling other people.

When organizations deny emotions in workplaces, they unconsciously reduce human to objects and prevent people from perceiving and creating future possibilities. This begins a vicious cycle that leads to scarcity mindset. It may explain why mobbing is a prevalent practice in cultures that are risk-averse, past focused, emotionally non-expressive, and punishment heavy. Yet it is unheard of in places with a can-do spirit and an abundance mindset that focuses on the creation, collaboration and forward thinking.

When we learn to leverage both cognitive and spiritual intelligence, we can create from the future and the unknown, while being grounded in the present. That is when we become invincible.

A Teal organization is designed exactly for this learning process.

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