Archive for January, 2011
“You just said I have to learn many things and now you are saying learn only one. I am confused”. This is my son pushing me back during a conversation where I told him that he should learn many skills – music, language, sports. He immediately drew up a list of new things he wanted to learn the drums, the guitar, and the keyboard all together. I immediately lectured him on the merits of picking one and not being distracted with too many things! This is when I heard this ‘you are confusing me’ comment! (We were having a conversation around how it is important to learn many skills and not just focus on the things he is good at.)
He was right. I was asking him to learn different things and I was asking him to focus. I was right too! While I wanted him to pick many new skills, I knew if he did at the same time he would not master even one, lose interest and may never try again!
Both of us were right but how do I explain this to him! It just struck me then that he was not the only one. I had a similar conversation with a direct of mine just a few days ago. In our town hall I had spoken about building processes, adhering to policies and in the same breath asked people to question processes, challenge status quo and not blindly follow policy and process. This person was genuinely worried that people may be confused and worse still not follow processes or respect policies and run amok!
I want both – I want people to adhere to policy and process but at the same time challenge them. I want them not to accept it blindly but once the agree to stick to it. But my colleague’s fears were right… people may not see this and go confused
I call this creative tension! Being at both ends of the spectrum at the same time. Balancing one with the other. Not easy, there will be conflict, there will be confusion… boundary lines will not be clear. But we don’t have an option… OR doesn’t exist – AND does. The one place where greed actually leads to a better outcome.
Unfortunately most of us grew up learning right answers and wrong answer. We didn’t have the option of both right and wrong being right. It was always OR, never AND.
I found this easier to deal with when I accepted this was true… that there were no right answers and even if they were they changed with time! Then came the understanding it is possible… it helped around that time I read a quote that went something like this. “True Genius is holding two conflicting thoughts in your brain and still being sane”. I wanted to be a genius
I am kidding it was a lot tougher than just reading a quote.. a few knocks and having my back to the wall helped in my journey.
Now, I have to figure out how I can get many more people to walk the creative tension without being confused or upping their blood pressure. Then it leads to destructive tension.
It is not going to be easy, we like straight answers, choices of one over the other…. The truth in both personal and professional lives this is reality. Awareness is a good start, now that you know, hopefully you will act.
Good luck and leave your comments as always. Talk of your experiences, ask questions…I have deliberately left this crisp(my new year resolution!)