We’re flying to space but don’t even know ourselves: Lecture by Marian Jelínek

Coach and former hockey trainer, Marian Jelínek, who even worked with Jaromír Jágr, showed the students at NEWTON College what things under the bonnet of the human mind really look like. At the premium lecture The Basics of Behavioural Psychology, Marian, among other things, answered the question of why people are constantly tired and angry, even though we live during the best time on Earth. We summarised the most important points from the lecture for you.

Marina Jelínek started his lecture with a question:

Why did psychologist Daniel Kahneman win the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics in 2002?

Because he realised that the economy doesn’t only work on a basis of logic, but it also influences your emotions. Then Jelínek followed up with: “If you were to behave purely logically, then you wouldn’t send texts or drink Coca-Cola while driving, because you would rationally know that these actions are harmful.” This is why managing people on a basis of logic will never work – you have to focus on emotions.

“We’re flying to space but don’t even know ourselves.”

The same goes for controlling our own emotions. We ourselves can’t say “fall in love” or “fall out of love”. “We often don’t know how to control our own emotions, but we want to control others,” said Jelínek, describing this everyday paradox. In order for someone to control the emotions of others, they have to start with themselves.

According to Marian Jelínek, self-knowledge is an amazing laboratory where you can work with your emotions in diverse ways. Nobody was ever born ethical, hardworking, or lazy – these qualities are built upon by each of us. Emotions arise based on conditions. Just as Jelínek himself said: “Nobody is born pissed off at life.”

John B. Watson, the founder of behavioural psychology, said that conditions can turn a small child into any kind of person.

“Is a murderer really a murderer from birth?”

Behaviourism is the direction that comes from the often non-logical behaviour of man. It aims to anticipate and control behaviour. In the beginning, he was extremely into the idea that every child is a tabula rasa and can be used to “cultivate” any person through education and conditions. Geneticists have argued against this view, claiming that humans have their own intrinsic genetically innate properties.

Behaviourists and geneticists agree on the theory that each of us has genes for everything from birth. The environment then triggers the relevant genes to be activated. This is why education, especially values, is important in childhood. For example, if someone grows up in a war environment, the gene of evil is activated in them, or if the parents overfeed a small child, the gene of obesity is activated in them.

“We live during the best times on Earth, but what does it matter?”

Marian Jelínek subsequently showed why this behavioural theory can be a snag for managing people today and in the future. In terms of the power equation:

power = potential - braking barrier

It used to be very important to take care of a person’s growing potential. Today, however, the braking barrier is rising, and therefore performance is declining.

It’s related to the fact that we’re living in the best time to be on Earth, but from the point of view of people’s subjective worlds, people’s happiness is declining. An existential vacuum is created, there’s more and more depression, the feeling of burning out, and relationship problems. 

According to Charles Darwin, evolution is made of small revolutions. The same goes for human life. Surely there comes a breaking point at which a change occurs that works for a while, and then another change must come along. If this change does not occur, you become entropic, don’t evolve, and stagnate. “All the companies in the world want to grow quickly and make more money, but on a planet that isn’t growing, this isn’t sustainable,” says Marian Jelínek, paraphrasing philosopher Erich Fromm and pointing out that we should focus on internal growth, which tends to be overly neglected.

During his lecture, Marian Jelínek characteristically quoted Arthur Schopenhauer and his line: “Freedom requires responsibility.”

“When we care about life, there’s no time for depression.”

Internal parameters are difficult to measure - the most economically developed countries have the least satisfied inhabitants. That is why, according to Marian Jelínek, today’s generation is at a turning point, which is demonstrated by the example of food. Thanks to gradual development, freedom and choice have been opened up for us, and one can go in two extreme directions in terms of food - radical hedonism (i.e., gluttony without self-control), or a particularly healthy diet. In the past, neither option was available.

Our day and age allow people to live without limits. “This way of life is quite pleasant but, at the same time, it’s destroying us,” explains Jelínek. In the past, limits were set by the time period, while today you have to set them yourself. For people to be able to set limits, they must be guided by their environment, such as by their parents or the fact that they enjoy what they’re doing. “When I enjoy something, I don’t have to be motivated,” says Jelínek. That is why today you have far more potential than in the past, but in order to achieve success, you can’t live without limits (for example, if you overeat, you’ll never be in good physical condition).

“Freedom requires responsibility.”

One solution for handling life (as well as managing a company) in this day and age is the harmony of both opposing forces – comfort and stress. With each change made on one side, a change must be made to the other. People want freedom, but if you don’t set limits for them at the same time, the result is anarchy. This is true in the relationship between the boss and the employee, the parent and the child, and the man and himself.

This is why Marian Jelínek affirms that it is important to get out of your comfort zone because only pleasure can be found there (joy restricted by time). If you buy a new car, you’ll find enjoyment in the purchase, but six months later and it’s already grown stale. You don’t like it anymore and you need a new one. Thus, you become an addict and a supporter of your own pleasure, which is quite easy to do in today’s free conditions. Get out of your comfort zone = don’t chase after short-term pleasure.

“Do you like money or making money?”

Human instinct is to desire the quickest road to please, but for something to transform into a truly powerful emotion, it requires time and the aforementioned getting out of your comfort zone. For instance, love between a man and a woman can never arise from short-term pleasure, which is why both need to sacrifice time to getting to know the other. Marian Jelínek explained this with his example of Jaromír Jágr. He loves hockey in every way, which is why he never leaves the sport, even when he runs into failure after failure.

To locate the right path, Marian suggests finding balance: “Love what you do and desire the most from it.” The art of great managers is to guard the balance between instincts and emotions. Plato has already proved this in his metaphor of a chariot driver. A man sits in a chariot controlled by two horses, one with impulses and the other with emotions. He who can control both horses leads the stagecoach of his life the right way. If one horse beats the other, the chariot will deviate or break down.

Read the interview with Marian Jelínek or the article about the technique of handling stressful situations that he explained during his lecture.

If you want Marian Jelínek to be your mentor while you study, register for the premium, professionally-oriented course Management and Psychology.