One day I think we’ll look back at the amount of time it took us to finally realize that one of the biggest secrets to a successful business wasn’t very secret at all; that the only problem we had with realizing it was embracing what we had been conditioned to think was unattainable: everything.
But as it stands today, the push and pull of getting there is still very much alive. We actively resist the very thing we want because our mindset is counterintuitive.
This vs. That
Truthfully, this post was inspired by our current exploration of different personality dichotomies as a way to better understand the people we work with (left vs. right brain thinking, cat vs. dog people, etc.). In the introduction to the series it is noted that: “Few people fall exclusively into one camp or the other, and sometimes the split is as much situational as it is personality-driven.”
True story, but many people don’t make this distinction. Instead, they mentally assign themselves and the people they interact with to one side and one side only. Arianna Huffington puts it like this: “Our culture has a way of collectively falling into the groove of conventional wisdom, whether that means seeing everything through the outdated prism of left vs. right, or willfully blinding ourselves to unpleasant or inconvenient facts.”
One of my favorite examples is our fixation on introverted vs. extroverted personalities. The workplace in particular suffers because when people are led to believe that they must inherently be one or the other, a great many opportunities for effective creativity and ideation — and even productivity — are lost. As one solution to this problem, Google provides both individual work stations and team offices. “I think where a lot of companies go wrong is thinking about it as an ‘or’ statement, not an ‘and’ statement. We try to have both,” said David Radcliffe, Google’s VP of real estate and workplace services.
To put this type of behavior in the words of Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
Be All You Can Be (Which is Everything)
Imagine how much corporate culture would change if rather than thinking of ourselves as strictly relegated to one end of a spectrum or the other, we were encouraged to find both sides within ourselves. Much like another popular argument as of late, we wouldn’t think to choose between a work-focused life or a personal-focused life. We’d have both, and it would just be life.
My call to action is ultimately this: a change in attitude can affect a change in culture. Don’t drop the notion of Yin vs. Yang — bookends are important for holding things together — but don’t think of yourself or others in such black and white terms, either. Look for and show off that ability to integrate, because that’s how we can find our full potential. Because we are human. And we are large. And we contain multitudes.