A room full of mirrors


by Bryan Hattingh

In business and life there are increasing levels of paradox and complexity. Managing paradox has rapidly become one of the key competencies required in effective and successful leaders. This competency has to be addressed philosophically, emotionally and behaviourally.

Paradox is seldom obvious and when undetected over time, it impacts negatively. Ironically whilst it may potentially affect the collective, the greater repercussion of paradox lies in its effect on us as individuals. Yet our response cannot be subjective and egocentric – we need to see the bigger picture.

One paradox is that success can breed complacency. But why change something that works? The reality is that change is inevitable and occurs unnoticed. If you are not changing, then there is a strong probability that you are diminishing. A basic natural law is that if something is not growing, then it is decaying.

Another paradox is that although life is dynamic and uncertain, a goal is required. But if life is in constant flux, how can we “cast things in stone”? In order to excel and self-actualize, we need to set meaningful and progressive personal goals. These must inspire and provide the traction to overcome challenges on our journey.

Paradoxically, as we progress up the success ladder, we discover that albeit our goals were initially the source of inspiration, they become secondary to growth and crucial life learning.

So do we stop setting goals? On the contrary! Based on our growth and increasing sense of self-worth, we must set more audacious goals. However, in this changing world, these goals must be aligned with what truly has meaning in our lives.

How do we negotiate the labyrinth of paradox? We need to develop a habit of reflection, step into the room full of mirrors and expand our view of self and our circumstances. The greater our knowledge and insight, the more likely we can be guided to make beneficial and timely decisions and act on them.

Seek out paradox, get to know it and love it, for whilst it can be an enemy it can also be your best friend. Paradoxically, as the saying goes, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.


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