Paradox Thinking: Taking the Scum Off Your Mind

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here are a few ideas to help you stay balanced in your ironic topsy-turvy world. Reading time: 5:34

         The 4-year old girl stabbed her long thin spoon into the mountain of ice cream. She tasted the hot fudge, pursed her lips and said “Oh, that’s hot.” Then she swallowed, tasting the ice cream chaser.

        Her shocked tongue delightfully beamed “Oh, that’s cold!” Hot fudge sundaes are hot. And cold. At the same time. They’re a composite of opposites.

        So are leaders.

        Chances are you feel like you are in a tug-of war-every day with your feelings and thoughts, actions and behaviors. You’re not alone. Read on to gain some solace in realizing that parlaying paradox is a leadership skill that you develop over time.

                After all, the most effective leaders I’ve known are exemplars of opposites. They use their strength to create peace. They know only the strong can be gentle. They know they don’t know.

            They’re so proud, they’re humble.  They work in “exciting serenity” as artist Paul Cezanne characterized his working style.  Leaders, oozing in the hot fudge of innovation smothered over the cold ice cream of the bottom line, perform paradoxically.

        They are “quick but never in a hurry” as former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden exhorted his players. They persist paradoxically. They get up even when they can’t (as boxing champion Jack Dempsey‘s paradoxically defined a champion.)

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