Can You Hold Two Opposing Views in Your Head at the Same Time?

I’m holding two opposing views of my work. I see and speak with people all over the world, every week. And, I only see the people in my house in person. I feel as if my world is getting smaller.

I have a long list of things I’m not doing:

  • Traveling to clients and working with them onsite.
  • Traveling to conferences and speaking and networking with people.
  • Leaving the house on a regular basis, even to have coffee with people.

I bet you have a similar story. Our physical worlds are getting smaller.

And, in some ways, my world is getting larger. I’m working with more people across the world. I’m speaking to groups I didn’t even know existed, because I don’t have to travel. And, I have Zoom coffees.

Those are the two opposing ideas: my physical world is getting smaller. My intellectual world and my connection with people is expanding.

When we have uncertainty, or we’re looking for a transforming Idea, we often have to hold several contradictory ideas at once.

Chaos: A Time for Opposing Ideas

As a society, we are in Chaos. Given where we are, I’m not sure we can find The Transforming Idea. We need several ideas, all of which can help us achieve a temporary Practice & Integration, until we encounter the next Foreign Element.

In those times, as I’m imagining the future, Chaos energizes me. I’m happy to imagine many possibilities. Here are some examples of my thinking:

  • We can make our supply chains more flexible, especially if we make manufacturing more local. And, when we do, I am sure we will focus on automation to make the manufacturing cost-effective. To me, that means:
    • Low code environments so we need software people to create those environments.
    • The people on the floor need to know how to change what the robots* can do.
    • We’ll need more flexibility in this automation.
  • We can reimagine education. When my clients opt for meeting more often for shorter times over several weeks, they see better results. If we can change the models for teaching middle and high school students, they might stop sleeping through class. They might become excited about topics they can’t stand now.
  • We can reimagine how we use different kinds of buildings and what work will look like for many of us. We know we don’t all have to be in the same place for us to work well together. We do need some time together. Maybe that means we can rethink how to use those large office buildings and how to work.

What’s common in all of these? The idea of flexibility.

Flexibility is Part of the Answer

Many of these ideas require us to hold several opposing views at the same time. What if we want the One Right Answer that allows us to move to New Status Quo?

That answer does not exist yet. I’m not sure when we will have that answer. However, if we can hold these two opposing ideas, we might make progress:

  • We can have a partial answer that solves part of the problem for now.
  • We can experiment our way to discover alternatives so we can achieve a New Status Quo for later when we have a vaccine.

Am I comfortable with a partial answer and experiments? Two opposing views or ideas. However, it’s the best I have right now, so yes, I’m comfortable. I can see how experimenting will help us achieve what we want: a more resilient economy.

(* Notice I’m using robots as a catch-all for automation. For example, an ATM is a “robot” for a bank teller. We still need bank tellers, but ATMs have changed the number of tellers and expanded our ability to access our money across the world.)

That, my dear adaptable colleagues, is the question this week: Can you hold two opposing views at the same time?

2 thoughts on “Can You Hold Two Opposing Views in Your Head at the Same Time?

  1. Marsha

    I love this. This is how I think most of the time, not just 2020. I look for all the possibilities, examine and discard or expand upon them, choose what works best for now with the understanding that nothing is permanent because life is not static. I think “best for now” is all we can ever do because things DO change. If we are to continue to grow–economy, business, even personally–then flexibility and experimentation are keys to that growth. Good points, Johanna.

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