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Focus on Paradoxes

This statement is a lie! Ah, but is it really? It is a paradox; a contradiction which may seem absurd however it relays both a truth and an untruth simultaneously challenging your logic. Just as you may seek certainty in a world of constant change, you may also desire freedom and in your commitment to seek it you are bound to this desire. 'Less is more' is perhaps the first paradox that I recall hearing as a child. I used it all the time without really understanding what it meant. It was only as a parent that I understood its meaning when making the complex simple to help educate my children as they forever asked WHY this and WHY that. Paradoxes surround you. There are more than 200 different types serving you to demonstrate the importance of using both your logic and your intuition, to not trust one over the other but to challenge what you are presented with. There is the ancient paradox of the chicken or the egg. Which came first? Was it the chicken? Was it the egg? If you are a quantum physicist from the University of Queensland and the NÉEL Institute you would say it was possible for both to come first. Not a straightforward case of cause and effect. In your workplace, the Abilene Paradox is likely to occur when you know something is wrong or risky but you don’t want to rock the boat so you go along with a group decision that is contrary to what you believe. Creating an environment where you are able to disagree with others, where you and others actively listen to one another and where no one is judged for standing up for what they believe will avoid the negative consequences of an Abilene Paradox. Paradoxes feature in your daily conversations perhaps without you even noticing them. In my latest Reflections & Observations episode 214, one of the observations I made from Dr Lizzy Bernthal’s episode 213 Innovation Takes Courage is that we live in a world full of paradoxes. Much of what we face in life is paradoxical but what is the purpose of a paradox? It is to arrest attention and to provoke fresh thought and the paradoxes Lizzy shared in her episode provoked much fresh thought for me. Lizzy worked in a fighting organisation with the purpose to save lives. A paradox. She was in a profession where she had to be willing to sacrifice her life to save another. Another paradox. She had to overcome her inner war zone to achieve peace of mind. Again, paradoxical. Lizzy spoke of failing and the paradox of failing means you are more likely to succeed. The paradox of being true to yourself is often in conflict with a sense of belonging and fitting in. Reflecting on Diana Hartley’s episode 212 Live from the Heart, Diana shares the paradox of love. Love whilst being so simple is also complex. The phrase you have to be cruel to be kind comes from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. “I must be cruel only to be kind.” Tragic acts cause tragic consequences with the purpose of seeking benefits believed to be from an act of kindness. Did you know that the Chinese character for paradox is a spear and a shield? It is based on the tale from 3rd century BCE of the blacksmith who made a spear that he claimed could penetrate any object. He also made a shield that he said could resist any penetration and in doing so the blacksmith created the irresistible force paradox. The podcast Focus on WHY focuses on life and it also focuses on mortality; the paradox of life. Socrates said, “I know one thing. That I know nothing.” This is a paradox I face all the time. I am with my good friends Socrates and Shakespeare here as the more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know. “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” William Shakespeare Are you aware of the paradoxes which surround you? ACTION POINT What paradox do you find yourself caught up in right now? What action do you need to take?


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