Who am I?

I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

Currently Consuming
  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    by Eric Ries
  • The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    by Daniel Coyle
  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    by Ron Chernow
« The Running Man | Main | More of the Same »
Saturday
Aug082015

And Also

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

–Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

At the Agile Conference last week I recognized that I have a new speech pattern. I heard myself saying things like:

  • “I want to help the team, and also I want them to be independent.”
  • “That way of thinking about it doesn’t work for me, and also I’m curious to know more about it.”
  • “This conversation is not comfortable for me, and also I believe it’s important to have.”

I discovered that “and also” is my phrase for holding paradox unresolved. I found myself using it to connect two potentially contradictory statements and to affirm the truths within both of them. I used when I didn’t want to favor one statement over the other. I’ve talked before about avoiding the word “but”; this goes deeper than that. This is about not rushing to certainty, about being comfortable with the discomfort of ambiguity. This is about being willing to work through ideas in public, about more deeply collaborating by letting people look behind the curtain of my thinking process before things are fully formed. This is about letting go of “having the answers” or “being right” and instead being more aware of and honest about where I’m at. And this phrase helped clue me and others in to when I was doing that.

It’s an odd little thing, but there is.

Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for this, Paul - I will share this insight with a friend who is also grappling with reconciling some contradictions she perceives she has. It's a refreshing realization that contradiction does not automatically require choice; and that you can allow yourself space to consider - and maybe even see a third way.

August 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Thompson

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>