Paradoxes: Embracing Contradiction


Being effective is largely a matter of being able to handle paradoxes — or at least balance two opposing thoughts and hold them in an appropriate tension.

In other words, part of being effective involves having a high threshold for cognitive dissonance; allowing for interruptions to default thinking patterns; allowing for bouts of agnosticism and unlearning.

Or, as novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald once pithied it…

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

(yes, I just verbed pithy… if they can verb architect, i can verb pithy)

Some questions to consider, then:

What are some of the ways to develop and refine this ability? 

How could you measure this ability?

How could you know if this ability had become over-developed?

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About danspira

My blog is at: http://danspira.com. My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on December 19, 2011, in Learning, Life, Productivity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. abstract post! i like it.. effective at what? 🙂

    cognitive dissonance requires you to have firm beliefs… and a very positive view of yourself (im a good guy incapable of doing actions that cause harm).. so when you experience something that goes against that, your brain rewrites your reality for you.

    so.. watch out for “black swans”… and accept you’re human.. might be a start?

  2. thx nareg for the affirmation on the abstraction of this post… cause you know normally in my business i’ve gotta be real concrete… effective at what? specifically? how much? when? where? yup, not much of the ‘ol “connecting with the general concept” in corporate training…

    i’m seeing some fine lines in what you’re suggesting: positive view of yourself, vs. acceptance of your own fallibility.

    watching out for “black swans“… nice… going to bookmark that for future reference

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