Tension of Opposites


It is late Saturday afternoon. The Sun is still shining brightly and warm. I collect a few strawberries for later and our 2 Labradoodles play on the lawn. My wife is gone to her study and prepares for her training course. I’m picking up a book that I haven’t read for a couple of years, “Tuesdays with Morrie” , sit down in my rocking chair and begin reading.

Nougat, our little dog is jumping on my lap and makes herself comfortable. Vanilla, her mother sits next to me and lets herself get cuddled. Time passes and I think of a Glenmorangie that sits in the cupboard just meters away. The tale of Morrie Schwartz and Mitch Albom is fascinating me again. I didn’t think I could forget that much. Just when I think of getting myself a dram of whisky I reach the part of the tension of opposites.

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Master the Difficult

There are many things I’m not good at. Playing the guitar for example. My wife tells me I have the perfect hands to learn playing. My desire to do so is not there.

My son Niklas on the other hand decided some years ago to learn just that. He loved listening to music and he loved my wife Susani playing the guitar. I didn’t notice first he started learning to play. He’d asked Susani if he could try on the old guitar. Sure, she said.

She saw him trying and watched a while. “Stop that”, she said. She gave him her “good” guitar, which was well tuned. “Now you can hear what you are doing!”

He asked questions: how is this? why is that? listen, does that sound alright?

He listened to Youtube clips and learned with his iPod touch for hours. He got his own guitar for his next birthday. He takes more care of that then the car he’s driving.

Now, 3 years later he plays bloody well. Really.

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Is there a gender stereotype for leadership behaviour?

Let me be provocative and say:

  • Men are risk takers and can lead us to new grounds.
  • Women are nurturers and lead the ongoing well being once we have arrived.

There is plenty of evidence that support my theory (Maybe we are different, or simply search Google “women nurture” and “men risk taking“). And I guess there is plenty telling that’s rubbish.

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Don’t underestimate Solitude

My wife told me a story once:

A simple man who lived in India heard his beloved guru was coming to town.
He went there to listen to his teachings. But he was late and the doors got closed in front him. The only thing he got told by his guru was “Go away”.

He took it literally and this became his mantra: “Go away”. He went out of town and constantly said “Go away”.

Years went by and people had come to see him and to listen. Then, one day, the guru was back in town. The simple man made his way back to town to see him.
Meanwhile there were far less people to see the guru then he expected. On some questioning he heard about the simple man who had been seeking solitude.
Even more, he was surprised that this man was coming to see him and they met face to face. “Who are you?” asked the guru.

The simple man took this as a new challenge and ran away resuming his solitude and saying his new mantra “Who am I?”.

Again years went by and more people came and listened. Then, the guru was back in town. Again the simple man made his way to see the guru.
This time only a handful of town people actually came to see the guru. And some were quite clear about the reason. The guru demanded the simple man being brought to him at once.
He needn’t to wait long as the man was already there. “Don’t run away”, the guru said, “tell me what is happening?”

“First you told me to go away.”, the simple man said. “That was all I needed to know at the time. My head was full of ideas and dreams. I couldn’t get a firm grip on any of them. Finding solitude helped me clear my mind.”

“Then you came back and asked me, ‘who are you?’.”, the simple man continued, “It allowed me to look into myself and explore who I am. I know myself now. Thank you.”

The guru couldn’t believe it. He started laughing. The simple man was perplexed and then realised what he had missed. He started laughing, too and walked away. Not much later he ascended.

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Does knowledge drive action?

A year ago I attended a webinar about change management. The speaker, Peter de Jager, was talking about what makes changes fail and what are good changes. He had a nice little list

Good Change Change failures
management of the change is facilitated management is dictated
good communications about the change poor communication
lots of planning lack of planning
all stakeholders are involved no involvement of key people
pro’s and con’s are clearly identified the change is not reality based
clarity of change objectives no clear benefit

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