Embracing paradox is all about accepting that more than one thing can be true at the same time. This is essential for us to do within our teams, families, communities, and the world for a number of reasons.
Why is Embracing Paradox so Important?
So many aspects of life and work are paradoxical, especially these days. Paradox is something that I’ve always been fascinated by—the notion that more than one thing can be true, and often these truths can contradict one another.
We seem to be having a hard time—particularly right now—embracing paradox in our society, but in order to thrive, we must be able to do so.
The nature of paradox
Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve done hundreds of virtual events, but only within the past few months have I been doing in-person events again. When I started speaking at in-person meetings again, it was weird and awkward, but at the same time, exciting.
I have mixed feelings about being back out on the road again with the current state of the pandemic. I’m simultaneously feeling excited and grateful to be doing what I love and getting to be with people again, and I’m also feeling scared and uncomfortable about covid, being in groups, and away from home – which has been my routine for the past two years.
Paradox and polarization
Paradox isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s necessary for us to embrace personally and within our relationships and groups.
The opposite of paradox is polarization.
In relationships, if we don’t embrace paradox, we end up on opposite sides of discussions and debates, with one person taking one side and the other person feeling compelled to take the opposite position.
This same phenomenon exists within groups and society at large these days.
Protocols keep changing. Businesses are trying to figure out if they will come back to work fully, partially, or stay working from home completely.
Most people I’m talking to have paradoxical feelings about coming back to the office.
Some people never want to go back again, while others are desperate to get back as soon as possible.
For every company, there’s going to be some level of paradox. Not everyone will be happy. Some people will be upset, and some people won’t be able to adjust. It will constantly evolve.
Paradoxes are in every aspect of our lives
These days it’s really hard to make decisions about what’s safe for work, for our relationships, and for our families.
I can look at the last two years and say that I’ve never been closer to my family. And at the same time, it’s also never been more intense, challenging, and stressful in our house. How is it possible that both of those things are true at the same time?
Maybe you can relate to this same paradox or others like it?
Embracing paradox through life and death
Life can be so brutal, yet so beautiful at the same time. My friend and colleague Glennon Doyle calls this “brutiful,” which is the epitome of paradox.
Think about the powerful realizations and perspective shifts that come around death and loss. When someone we love dies, we get a new perspective. It wakes us up to who and what matters most to us.
Death, to me, is one of the ultimate paradoxes of life. The sadness, loss, pain, and grief can be so intense, scary, confusing and anger-producing.
But paradoxically, it can also be life-altering and beautiful. Grief is often filled with love, gratitude, connection, depth, and authenticity.
Think about the paradoxes in your life
You may love going to the gym, eating healthy, and meditating, but you may also love watching Netflix in bed, eating ice cream, and sleeping late.
One of the biggest challenges we face in our culture today is the inability to embrace paradoxes.
There are many things we can look at at a much deeper level and try to understand and make peace with.
Multiple things being true at the same time can be tricky and uncomfortable for our brains to deal with. We want things to be certain, especially when living in such uncertain times.
But when we are unable to embrace paradox, it becomes dangerous. It turns into us vs. them—right vs. wrong.
We have to start understanding that life exists in the messy middle, in the paradox of it all.
Embracing Paradox Brings Us Together
Right now, things are incredibly intense. What’s necessary for us as human beings, leaders, parents, and friends is to embrace the paradox of life and realize there is no “them,” it’s all “us.”
Think about how this relates to your life, team, or family. Where can you bring forth some awareness and acceptance of the paradoxes in your life? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The best way to embody that we’re all in this together is to embrace the paradox.
I have written five books about the importance of trust, authenticity, appreciation, and more. In addition, I deliver keynotes and seminars (both in-person and virtually) to empower people, leaders, and teams to grow, connect, and perform their best. Finally, as an expert in teamwork, leadership, and emotional intelligence, I teach techniques that allow people and organizations to be more authentic and effective. Find out more about how I can help you and your team achieve your goals today. You can also listen to my podcast here.
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