To be a great leader, a successful entrepreneur, or a high-level coach – requires a level of comfort with doubt, uncertainty and ambiguity that most people will never have.
But comfort with uncertainty is a muscle you can build.
Ambiguity literally means “having double meaning.” And there’s a cognitive tool that can help you achieve the higher-order thinking you need to thrive in challenging times.
A paradox is a situation or statement that seems impossible because it contains two opposing ideas.
And I’ve spent years seeking out paradoxes, to strengthen my abilities as a leader, an entrepreneur and a coach.
As, F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.“
Here are some of the paradoxes that have made the biggest impact on my life:
- The only way to create clients quickly is to create them slowly. (Serve. Serve. Serve… This is particularly frustrating to coaches who are in a hurry).
- To be a strong leader, be vulnerable.
- If you’re the most interesting person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
- Givers are the most successful people – they are also the least successful people.
- Saying yes to almost every opportunity is what got you here – saying no to almost every opportunity will get you to your next level of success.
- The opposite of success isn’t failure, it’s mediocrity.
- It’s easier to achieve the ‘impossible’ than to go after what you think you can get.
- The job of a leader is to create more leaders, not more followers.
- You need to risk your current success to get to your next level of success.
- The less you need a client the more they want you.
- The less your client needs a coach, the more impactful your coaching.
- Slow down to speed up.
- Surround yourself with people better than you.
- Stay insecure: Imposter Syndrome isn’t something to get rid of. It’s a sign that you keep playing a bigger and bigger game.
- Someday your strengths will become your biggest weakness.
- Your weaknesses are your biggest asset. Leverage them.
- If you have a mission that doesn’t need a team, you’re not dreaming big enough.
- Yes lives in the land of No. (As Byron Katie said, “You can have anything you want in life, if you’re willing to receive 1,000 NOs…”)
- To say No you need a powerful Yes.
- To learn something, teach it.
- When you’re exhausted, work out.
- To succeed, help others to succeed.
- To be successful, watch what everyone else is doing and do the opposite…
- Don’t answer your clients’ questions. Question their questions.
- Listen deeply. You’ll be paid more as a coach for keeping quiet, than any other coaching tool you could learn.
Most clients are craving clarity. And sometimes clarity will lead to where you are headed. But often clarity is only seen in the rear view mirror. You accomplish your goal and look back and say, “Oh, that was the path…”
Build your muscle for thriving in uncertainty. And support your clients to do the same.
Which of the paradoxes above do you love the most? Which don’t make sense? And what paradox has made the biggest difference to your life?
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