Head First Heart Second

Your head is a map and your heart is a compass.

Your map (your head) lays out what the terrain looks like. It communicates causes and effects, means and ends, pleasant trails and hazards.

Your compass (your heart) tells you which way to go. It communicates values, morals, and destinations.

Your compass will still give instructions even if your map is upside down. East will look West. Bad places will look good, and good places will look bad. That’s why it’s important to draw your cognitive map first before you follow your moral compass.

If you follow your compass before etching out an accurate map, you’ll be worse than stuck, you’ll be lost. You won’t only fail to progress, you’ll move backward. You’ll travel against your values, against what’s good, and against your destination.

Lost people have trouble revising their maps. They’ve already committed to one direction, and the more you invest in something the harder it is to abandon it. They share stories of their travels with their friends. They build an identity out of their causes. They develop networks of like-minded individuals with similar purposes. After they form identity, community, and purpose out of their journey, it’s hard to admit their map is defective.

This doesn’t put the map above the compass (or the head above the heart). Head first heart second is a temporal imperative, not an evaluative one. Just as the compass is no good without the map, the map is no good without the compass. You need both, but draw the map first. Plot the terrain before you navigate it.

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