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Jay Cross

John, a great and intriguing post. I am with you in spirit but I think you've got your logician's blinders on. Passion is a powerful elixir. But by what logic do you leave out all the other emotions?

My inquiry into leveraging emotion in business started with looking only into what make people happy. I excused this by pointing to experts who said sadness is a totally different deal. Then I discovered the magic beans. I know what it takes for business people to raise their ideal levels of contentment and satisfaction. Maybe half a dozen lessons.

Now I'm working through the impact of other emotions: joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. They reinforce one another. More is better.

Why limit your vision to passion?


Fascinating reading!

You were linked by one of my blog-readers on a comment thread about the work of Dr Gabor Maté, whom I highly recommend also.


Your neurophysiology intuition is on track John regarding neurobiology of passion mechanisms including how these manifest individually and also likely how these constitute in relationships as they weave together passion/reinforcement within an individual's passion and even reinforcing limbic brain connection-plasticity interpersonally. (if you want to go even further into conceptual free fall)

An interesting possible further extension of your passion neuro-plasticity concept is towards interpersonal "relationship passion plasticity" connecting multiple brains together, typically a couple (limbic resonance & empathy via mirror neurons/Vagus nerve) and then the same neurochemistry (Dopamine/Oxytocin) and rewiring plasticity synchronizes couples over time -- such that the "Neurons that fire together, wire together.” can be extended in interpersonal neuroplasticity bonding and interlinking & pairing neurophysiology. Eg romantic couples, Dopamine turn-on, orgasm and Oxytocin bonding at the more intense example or social "limbic connection" in less intense interpersonal bonding.

A great book explaining this topic in some depth is "A General Theory of Love" by Lewis, Lannon, Amini: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_General_Theory_of_Love

interpersonal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagus_nerve
empathy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spindle_cells
resonance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limbic_resonance

orgasm theory http://onetaste.us/
psychotherapy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limbic_revision


Hi John: Thanks so much for these insights: exceptional stuff.

May I suggest there's a sharper lens for conversing about this?

You may recall meeting Gunther Sonnenfeld, my partner at UBIQUID.US/THINKstate, a new collective intelligence/data visualization engine, at your LA book signing a few months back.

One of our inspirations (I'm a former immunologist who came to coll intell via a second career as digital media/marketing guy) stems from...the brain stem itself.

We are in fact hard-wired as human beings not simply to share mood-states (passion, charity, altruism) but story itself, which is the predicate for any shared emotion, right?

I say predicate because we have to contextualize that emotion in story/meme/narrative (simple as shared personal reflection, complex as a piece of shared immersive tech) *before* passion means anything.

The big guy in this space (he's rigorous and should win a Nobel, you ask me) is Jaak Panksepp. He's THE guy where brain anatomy meets human social functionalities meet emotion. His Wikipedia entry doesn't do him justice: you want to sit down with this book

Panksepp, J. (1998). Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions. New York: Oxford University Press.

and his new one:


Be great to continue this conversation with Gunther and our partners Ishan Shapiro (our knowledge federation guy) and Gavin Keech (our UX designer, whose Entanglements rubric underpins everything we're doing).


Ellen Weber

John, thanks for this thoughtful take on what would add more brain chemicals for passionate innovations, and what building passionate innovation could do for leadership in business! Bravo!

You are so right about positive feedback. Here at the Mita Brain Center we tend to avoid critiquing for mistakes, in favor of targeting improvements together.

Amazing results by even that shift - when it comes to exploring and discovering together. Gets leaders to a far higher plane, and that in itself inspires a new kind of leadership from their helms:-)

Lots to reflect on more -- and get back:-) Thanks John. You'd love the MBA Management course - Lead Innovation with the Brain in Mind:-)

Best! Ellen

Account Deleted

First of all, congrats for writing such a fine article, which of course you always do.

I have a feeling that the proper balance of dopamine & oxytocin can be achieved through clear and sustained intent where passion provides the initial trigger.

Do you think that sustaining the intent triggered by passion might be achieved through meditation?

Ajay Mohan Goel

John very interesting perspective. If this phenomenon is part of the holistic Brain Game, then what is the effect of the Digital Age distractions, which is reducing our attention spans on a specific task and gets us to keep switching tasks at a rapid pace?
Will this increase the plasticity or decrease it? Will it make the brain more porous, like an unbaked, dried clay toy?

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