Developing the Both and Mindset by snoopdoggywuf


Developing the “Both and” Mindset

Word Count:

Typically people have an “either or” mindset which inevitably leads to
suboptimal solutions, and under satisfying compromises. By switching to
the “both and” mindset you can become more successful and paradoxically
create greater clarity and balance in your life.

Leadership, success, balance, mindset, focus

Article Body:
Clients often share a situation or challenge with me and as their
consultant they ask me to advise them on a course of action. Often
during the conversation, the Client will identify two distinctly
different courses of action - that may at first seem to be in opposition.
The question is basically formatted as an “either or” question – “Should
I do A or B?”

Often, my answer is “yes.” After getting a confused look, I explain that
the answer lies not in one or the other of the alternatives, but in
exploring and doing both. This is what I call “both and” thinking.
Collins and Porras in their book Built to Last call it “avoiding the
Tyranny of the OR, and embracing the Genius of AND.”

“Either or” thinking is pervasive in our world. Let's take the example
of the common phrase, “black or white.” When we think of black or white,
we often try to balance by looking for the “shades of gray” - thinking
that in balance or compromise we will find the right solution. This is
seldom the most valuable approach. My suggestion is to consider black
and white.

That “either or” solution inevitably leads to suboptimal solutions, and
under satisfying compromises. Balance is not found in some murky middle
ground, but rather by dedicating our focus to both ends of the spectrum.

Black <i>and</i> white.

We can take this concept beyond the philosophical and find specific ways
to use “both and” thinking in all parts of our lives. Below is a list of
10 “both and” combinations that will make you a better leader of yourself
and others.

<b>Strengths and weaknesses.</b> What we receive feedback, we typically
focus on our weaknesses and work to improve in those areas. This is
fine, but if all of our effort is focused here, and none is focused on
valuing and strengthening our strengths, we are not investing our time
and effort in the most effective way. Are there weaknesses to improve?
Of course there are. But think too of your strengths and build those.

<b>Timeless and new.</b> New ideas are seductive, and we must be mindful
of and willing to move forward with new ideas. But we can't focus on the
new without a bedrock of timeless principles to guide us. History does
repeat itself, so when we find the timeless principles in the new ideas;
we will gain even greater clarity and create greater progress.

<b>Expert and novice.</b> Have a problem to solve? Consider having an
expert help you think it through. Consider also bringing someone in with
no prior knowledge or preconceived ideas about the situation. Expert and
novice. Both bring value to a problem solving challenge or innovation

<b>Inform and listen.</b> Great communicators do more than inform. They
also listen. Great communicators are not great because they can do one
or the other of these exceptionally well, but because they can do both
exceptionally well.

<b>Demanding and supportive.</b> As a leader of ourselves or others we
need to be demanding and tough because clear expectations are important
and motivating. Results are needed. However, if we drive for the
results without supporting people and their feelings, ultimately people
won't reach their true potential.

<b>Goals and serendipity.</b> To succeed at the highest levels we must
have a target in mind, a vision, a goal. The most successful people have
clear goals and continue to listen for the knock of opportunity. They
value the serendipitous moment and meeting, and recognize that in those
moments their goals might be adjusted reprioritized or otherwise change.
Simply leaving our lives to serendipity will not create the greatest
results. Conversely, remaining it rigidly goal focused, may preclude us
from seeing many great opportunities.

<b>Task and process.</b> The work must be done - the task is important.
However, thinking of the process, the flow, and how the work is done is
equally important. If we solely focus on getting out the work we’ll miss
opportunities to improve the process and make it easier, more productive
and more enjoyable. On the other hand, if we spend all of our time
planning the process, we will never get results. Maintain both a task
and process focus.

<b>Strategy and tactics.</b> We must plan. Strategy is important. But
we also must take action. Tactics are imperative. The most successful
people and leaders value strategy in the context of actionable tactics
that moved them towards those strategic ideals.

<b>Customer focus and employee focus.</b> Some organizations feel that
the Customer is always right and all work should be done in service for
the Customer. Others feel that if they treat their employees right, the
Customers will ultimately be satisfied. These are not diametrically
opposed ideas. Clearly, Customers and employees are the two most
valuable assets any business holds. Focus on them both.
<b>Individual and team.</b> Individual talent, performance and
productivity are critical; however individual success cannot trump
synergistic collaboration. Work on building individual skills, and
empower educate and support teams as well.

I could add to this list, but hopefully you already see the wisdom of
“both and” thinking. Chances are, as you begin to value and create this
mindset for yourself, you will find more and more of these combinations
that you can apply.

The “both and” mindset will help you become more successful and
paradoxically create greater clarity and balance in your life. Take the
time to think about and nurture this mindset today.

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