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  • Bob Burg

“Bob Burg opens the floodgates to Fort Knox.”

~ Dottie Walters, Author, Speak & Grow Rich

When It Comes To Emotions…Who’s Driving The Car?

October 29th, 2012 by Bob Burg

Dondi ScumaciI’d like to think that I’m a logical being. And, most others would like to think they are, as well. Yet, people being people, the great majority of us are much more driven by our emotions than we would like to think.

I often quote the Talmudic saying, “Who is mighty? The one who can control their emotions and make, of an enemy, a friend.”

With that in mind, I LOVE the recent response by my great friend and valued mentor, bestselling author and leadership authority, Dondi Scumaci, in answer to a person who wrote that he has challenges (as do most of us) in this regard.

Dondi wrote:

“Emotions are important for the journey…But I don’t let them drive the car!”

Ahhhhhhhhh, brilliant! That — I believe — is the key. It’s not to turn ourselves into robots. Emotion is one of the key ingredients in life, not only in terms of desirability but in reality.

Unfortunately, it drives most people.

What’s important is that your emotions don’t drive you. That you drive them. That you are at the steering wheel, and they are in the passenger’s seat with the seat belt securely fastened.

Yes, they should be set free, but only when they serve, not when they master.

Yep, emotions are extremely important. But, as Dondi tells us, they shouldn’t be driving.

Thank you, Dondi, for continuing to share such though-inspiring wisdom.

So, awesome readers, how do you ensure that your emotional driver-passenger relationship is appropriate?

26 Responses to “When It Comes To Emotions…Who’s Driving The Car?”
  1. Bob, thank you so much for the kind mention in today’s post. This is powerful and profound: Yes, they (emotions) should be set free, but only when they serve, not when they master.

    Building on our analogy, I am imagining the backseat of the car sometimes filled with emotions, perhaps distracting the driver. There are situations when we need to (virtually) pull over, gather ourselves and connect with the real objective.

    I can hear myself saying it now, “Don’t make me pull this car over!”

    Can’t wait to follow the discussion you will most certainly inspire with this post.


  2. Terry said at 8:23 am on

    You Will Never Solve a Problem from The Emotional Level… Let’s Remember, Positive Emotions Release Endorphin’s, The Negative Holds Them Back… I Totally Agree… Never Let Your Emotions Drive, Take Lots of Time To Respond if You Have to At All… Thanks Bob and Dondi, once Again what a Great Team!!!

  3. Bob Burg said at 8:37 am on

    Dondi: Thank YOU for sharing such amazing wisdom with us, and always inspiring us to take our thinking to a deeper level. And, I LOVE your backseat analogy. I can even hear Dad issuing that warning while my sister, Robyn and I were fighting in the back seat during a family drive…and that was just LAST WEEK! LOL!

    Terry: That is brilliant, my friend (“You Will Never Solve a Problem from The Emotional Level”). Thank you so much for adding your profound wisdom to the post!

  4. LOL Bob! We have those family moments in our car too. Terry, I also want to thank you for always adding value to the discussion. What a marvelous impact to have: adding value to every discussion you join.

  5. Bruno Coelho said at 9:12 am on


    I was missing your wisdom my friend! This is something I’m also working on and that I decided that it’s something that I MUST do, not should do.

    What I loved more about your strategy is the way that you don’t try to fight against our emotions. That I believe wouldn’t be wise. A much better way is to see all your emotions for what they really are: energy. Energy we can use to move towards where we want to be and who we want to become.
    So, it’s not about fighting them but redirecting them. That’s why I loved your car analogy!

    Tony Robbins says something about this that I love: “All emotions are OK, even when we feel some negative emotions. What’s NOT OK is to allow ourselves to live in those states!”

    Being able to Master our Emotions is a life-time journey… but it’s also one worth taking!

    Thank you Bob for sharing your wisdom with us!
    Bruno Coelho

  6. Bob, thanks for serving up another Dondi nugget of wisdom. I am a huge fan of her wisdom, as shared through her books, speeches and in social media.

  7. What a great post, Bob! As of recent I have learned a few things about this topic. A wise man conveyed to me when your emotions are creeping away to take some time to get them in check. It is best when you have time to logically analyze the situation at hand. Another great friend said to stay outside of someones thoughts when dealing with issues that you have no control over. You never truly know their thoughts and intentions.
    For me– I have learned it is good to have a mentor/friend that can suggest some different ways of looking at things and offer you action steps to handle a situation that might be letting your emotions drive the car. There are times I enjoy being the passenger in my life but never the passenger to my emotions; I like to be in the drivers seat so I can control my next destination on Emotion Hwy. I now look for the exit signs that say please take Exit Chill up ahead to refuel.
    Wishing you a Magical Monday, Bob!

  8. Dr. Kevin Kita said at 10:13 am on

    I think that you will be interested in the book that I just wrote Healing Journeys Stories of Mind, Body, and Spirit. It is endorsed by Bob Burg, Dr. John Demartini, and Jeff Olson. It is about the real life stories about patients coming into my office have chronic illnesses that are caused by their past emotional traumas and how to deal with them.

  9. Bruno Coelho said at 10:20 am on

    I love Michele’s advice!

    I guess what often keeps me from handling my emotions well is my EGO… Because I’m in the personal development business, sometimes my EGO makes me believe that I have to know all the answers and do everything I can so others can see how I handle any challenge effortlessly…
    That’s just not true.

    Even this weekend I asked for my wife’s help in showing me a different way to handle something that was getting my emotions run wild… Now, obviously her help had a tremendous positive impact, so the question is: why did wait so long before talking with her?

    It wasn’t because I doubted that she could help me because I knew she could. Besides having a major degree in Criminal Psychology and a master degree in Neuropsychology, she has a lot of wisdom to offer… I believed the reason was that I didn’t want her to see my weaknesses.

    Now, I see that the REAL weakness is to believe that we don’t have any. And asking for the wisdom of our trusted friends is also a sign of a healthy EGO and of a great leader, don’t you agree?

    This means that while we share some advice about how people can live more meaningful and fulfilling lives, doesn’t mean that we’re dismissed from applying the same concepts in our lives. In a way leadership is more about our example as a legacy and a source of inspiration for others, than to give answers or to pretend that we’re perfect.

  10. Kumar Gauraw said at 10:44 am on

    Excellent article, Bob. You bring such brilliant thoughts every time! Thank you for bringing such insightful topic for discuss yet again.

    Emotions are the driving forces for sure and it is hard to resist them. But as human beings, we do need a driving force in our lives. In absence of another driving force ( such as purpose in life, dreams and goals), emotions generally take the control.

    However, when our lives are driven by our purpose in life and when that becomes our dominant thought process, I believe we are in better control to decide when to let the emotions flow freely and when to put the foot down and stop them from driving the car! We need a sense of duty, a sense of purpose to be able to get over the roller coaster of emotionally driven actions – I personally feel. I would be curious to know what you think of this.

    Again, thank you very much for sharing the nuggets of wisdom from time to time.


  11. Bob Burg said at 11:05 am on

    Bruno: Both of your letters contained great wisdom. I really loved your second one. What amazing self-growth. And, at so young an age. You continue to amaze me!

    Dave: Thank you. I appreciate your great feedback regarding Dondi. She’s awesome, indeed!

    Michelle: Thank you for sharing. Terrific advice. I love the words on your exit sign! 🙂

    Kumar: Thank you. As always, your thoughts and advice are right on! Very well said!

  12. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 11:28 am on

    GREAT article!!!!! Thank’s Bob!
    I agree that it is YOU/ME that has to be in charge of “driving the car” or actions – Definately!!!!! WE have to be CAUSE not EFFECT!
    AND definately the negative emotions should definately not be allowed to drive any car.
    BUT what about the high tones like ENTHUSIASM – True enthusiasm is not something that automatically is there – YOU choose it and ware it, and it it “crowne” the juvels of value, you are offering.
    What a WONDERFUL community you have here Bob!!!!!
    Hugs and love to you all from Denmark

  13. Bob, great post. I like to think of emotions as the navigator in the driver-passenger relationship. Your emotional side often acts like a warning system, alerting you to the danger of something not being just quite right, even though your rational side doesn’t have a logical reason to reach that conclusion. It may be your subconscious detecting the problem faster than your rational mind can. Or, it could be your emotional side overreacting to something. It takes a dialogue between your logical and emotional sides to determine how best to proceed. When they can find agreement, proceed at full speed.

  14. Mary Silva said at 12:29 pm on

    Thank you, Bob. Great blog and insightful perspective from Dondi.
    I am a very emotional person and this was not always a good thing in business. My dad once told me that there can be times that a great strength like being EMOTIONAL (caring, compassionate) can be a weakness in business ( if you don’t stay in control of it ). A great rule I learned from my dad and follow to this day is to WAIT 24 HOURS to react or confront someone about a serious or emotional situation. This rule works! …..it allows you to think more clearly and avoid over reacting ! 24 hours allows you to fill your tank with reason, get in the driver seat, and avoid costly violation tickets (like losing a friend or employee). Thanks again. Warm regards to you and Dondi.

  15. Linda Ryan said at 4:06 pm on

    This is one of those “What do I love more~your post or the comments?” posts. Love them both! Such a great analogy to help make it easier to remember who is driving. LOL “Don’t make me pull this car over!” As always, I continue to learn new ways of looking at things from you, Bob. Thank you… and Dondi… and all the great commentors 🙂

  16. Bob and Dondi, I love the thought provoking and timely post. We are heading into the holiday season and as challenging as business can be sometimes – well then there are all the emotions of the families…

    I am leading a study of the book Switch with my team and was reminded of the elephant (emotion) and the rider (rational thought). After reading Dondi’s comments I pictured the rider carrying the elephant on his back. Obviously the rider will be crushed. That’s what happens when emotions rule.

  17. So Absolutely true… Perfect timing for me…
    I am always helping others and sometimes as we all know
    you are going to come into some resistance and then
    sometimes people say things in either heated moments
    or emotional moments…

    Our emotions are Sooo powerful indeed and if we can channel
    them into what we do want and not what we don’t want…

    And we are human and have to honor and acknowledge our
    hurt yet even then remember it is just a moment in time
    we can either dwell on or grow from…

    Thanks for the amazing reminder Dondi and Bob…
    You both are awesome…
    Lots of Love, Hugs, and Health… : )))

  18. Bob Burg said at 8:26 pm on

    Lene: Being the cause and not the effect is a terrific and very wise way to put it. Thank you for your always-awesome feedback and comments!

    Joseph: A bit of a different angle and very well said. I’d say that, indeed, emotions certainly can navigate…and that’s fine providing they are not ultimately in control. And, one who is really in-tune with their emotions can utilize them to great advantage. Thank you for sharing your point of view.

    Mary: A very wise Dad, indeed. Yes, emotion can be both a strength and a weakness, depending upon how and when they manifest. And I love your analogy at the end!

    Linda: Thank you. I’d choose Dondi’s quote…and the comments! 🙂

    Denis: Thank you. Yes, the Holiday’s can be a time of stress and emotion, and being in control of one’s emotions can be even more critical during this time of year. And, the elephant and the rider is an excellent example! Thanks for sharing with us!

  19. Christie Ellis said at 10:21 pm on

    Wow, not only do I love what Dondi and you both shared, but I love all these responses as well. I really don’t have anything to add except I appreciate all of the humor, grace, love, energy, wisdom and talent presented here. Thank you all!!!!!

  20. Dondi Scumaci said at 11:36 pm on

    Wow! This discussion is FABULOUS. Bob thank you for being such a catalyst and to all of you who contributed. The creativity, perspective and insight on this page is amazing. What a terrific group gathers here.

  21. Bob Burg said at 7:42 am on

    Carly: Great thoughts, indeed. Thank you for sharing with us!

    Christie: Thank you for your kind feedback. And, yes…the responses have been magnificent! And, the words you added were a lot!

    Dondi: Amazing, isn’t it? See what YOU started with your awesome advice?? And, we do both have the best community! 🙂

  22. Thanks to two of my favorite people, Bob and Dondi. Talking about emotions is one of my favorite things to do 🙂 It’s so easy to have our ‘buttons pushed’ and most of the time it has nothing whatsoever to do with the current moment. I have a friend who took in a lodger to help pay the bills. We were walking along the beach one Sunday morning and I asked how it was working out. She started patting up and down her torso with the palms of her hands and said…”I had no idea I had so many buttons”. These experiences are so rich with teaching if we are only open to the experience of it. After all, we only learn about ourselves through our relationship with others.

  23. Bob Burg said at 7:53 pm on

    Susan: Thank you for your kind words and insightful lesson. So very true, isn’t it?!

  24. Rajeev said at 9:06 am on

    there are two phases of everyone’s life 1) Follow 2) Lead.

    If we wanna follow, listen to our heart & emotions.

    If we wanna lead, listen to our brain.

    sometimes we’ll need to follow and lead simultaneously.. shouldnt get confused then 😉

  25. Amy Wells said at 7:56 pm on

    Wow, with the question in the title of this blog, the answer “PEACE” jumped out of me.

    I know that thoughts create feelings/emotions and when I feel a certain way about something, I explore what thought is behind that feeling, so that I can determine if it should be what’s leading me. (I use the questions you taught me Bob)

    I lead with all of my heart, as I let peace (a feeling) be my guide. I guess I’m not wrong, as much as I am just different……..

    I love what Susan said, “….. After all, we only learn about ourselves through our relationship with others.” To relate, I must feel.

  26. […] beings we tend to believe what we want to believe, based on our feelings. We then back up those emotion-based beliefs according to information congruent with what we want to believe in the first place. […]

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