Tip #823: For Sanity’s Sake, Adopt A Paradox Mindset

“A paradox mindset shifts the focus from the need to choose between work and family, to instead learn how to constantly balance these demands over time.” Ella Miron-Spektor and Wendy Smith

It is true that working from home while surrounded by family and pets creates all sorts of difficulties and challenges. But it is also true that we make it more difficult because of how we think about the situation.

In their article, “Overwhelmed? Adopt a Paradox Mindset,” Ella Miron-Spektor and Wendy Smith suggest that it is much wiser to adopt a ”both/and” approach instead of an “either/or” one.

A paradox mindset recognizes that there are competing demands on our time and that we can’t entirely eliminate them. We suffer from the tension and the struggle when we believe that we have to choose one over the other, when that choice is really not possible. If we focus on work, then we feel guilty about ignoring our family, and vice versa.

“An either/or approach can lead to limited solutions and personal suffering, whereas adopting a paradox mindset actually boosts innovation, creativity and performance.” It ultimately depends on how we interpret our reality.

Miron-Spektor and Smith believe that a paradox mindset can be cultivated if three basic steps are followed.

  1. Reframe the question to consider how two goals that appear in conflict can actually be reinforcing.
  2. Accept the tension and develop comfort with the discomfort. Recognize that the tension is a natural part of our reality, rather than being threatened by or ignoring it.
  3. Distance yourself and search for new possibilities by connecting with others to gain a sense of comfort and get a different perspective.

“With a paradox mindset, tensions enable new possibilities. In a series of laboratory studies, we found that when we help people approach tensions with a paradox approach, they become more creative. If we focus on only one demand and not the other, we miss the opportunity to achieve both. Thinking in paradoxical terms pushes us to find integrative solutions to our problems.”

Miron-Spektor and Smith do not suggest for a minute that the paradox mindset will solve every problem. They do believe, however, that it is a way to take a crazy-making situation and make it feel more comfortable and under our control.  “A paradox mindset allows us to look at the challenge, understand the need to adapt and uncover a different way of working.”

Do you think that a paradox mindset can help you in this turbulent time?

May your learning be sweet.


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