I’ve written recently about the convergence of dualities that’s happening all across the world, and this understanding is profound and huge and important.
But I’ve come to believe the ability to hold a paradoxical tension in our minds is just as important as recognizing it at a macro scale.
The best (or we could say most helpful) behaviors seem to stem from an inclusive perspective.
Not either/or, but both/and.
The examples I gave in the dualities post apply here as well. An individual mindset which can bring together what seems like polarizing viewpoints (Eastern/Western, masculine/feminine, individualistic/familial, left brain/right brain) actually performs better, particularly in the world that is emerging.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” I’ll take it a step further: I am claiming that this ability actually makes an individual more valuable in the new economy.
Because of the ways in which the world is changing, if we wish to thrive — or even just compete — in the new economy, our mindset must evolve as well.
Here are a few more practical examples of paradoxical thinking.
Everyone is unusual (we all have utterly unique strengths), but at the same time we are all the same (we are all human beings). The truth is in the tension. It’s not either/or. When managers begin to grasp this, they quickly become the type of leader people want to follow.
Something like “impact” doesn’t even occur in pure dualities. We can’t have the impact we want on anything — there are many things outside of our control — but at the same time we truly can impact the world around us. We don’t have complete control over what happens, but we do have power over certain things which lie within our sphere of influence. The most helpful perspective lies in being able to retain both thoughts, not one or the other. When we begin to understand this, we gain a sense of freedom and power in our ability to make choices.
The truths of the world around us lie somewhere within these paradoxes. It will benefit us greatly if we can find a way to embrace the tension.