The Duality Of Leadership

Posted on 14. May, 2013 by in Lead From Within, Leadership, Leadership Development, Life Skills, Personal Development

Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 11.45.24 PM

In life and in leadership, we are constantly dealing with duality.

To learn, we need to be curious. To lead, we need to have followers. To be strong, we need to be vulnerable. To give, we need to receive.

 

As twenty-first century leaders, we need to understand that we are moving toward a NEW ethic, one that is built on duality.

In the OLD way of thinking, we based our leadership on a set of shared values and principles aimed at achieving moral perfection while maintaining social order and well being.

What got left behind in the old approach are the things that we are coming to value and seek out in the NEW: authenticity, vulnerability, unity.

The old approach was built on the duality of contradictory opposites. In or out. Black or white. Right or wrong. We divided things, labeled them, decided their value.

In the new ethics of leadership opposites are about reconciling.

 

The foundation is a concept of opposites that are contrary but not contradictory, that exist as points on a spectrum—not black and white, but darkness AND light.

Instead of choosing one and rejecting the other, we accept both, we live with both, we seek to know both.

To lead us to our truth in our living and leadership we must approach life as a series of dualities, to let go of our anxiety of having to be all on one side or the other.

It’s a challenge, because we as leaders love taking sides, making decisions, and feeling prepared.

But there are things you can do to learn to live with duality:

Be patient with yourself: It’s challenging to bump up against the dualities of existence. Give yourself time and space to adjust your thinking.

Trust yourself: Have faith in your intuition and stay within the moment, believing that you will find what you seek.

Acknowledge the duality: Free yourself to concentrate on pursuing what is appropriate in each moment.

Hold the tension: When you find yourself in discomfort from duality, don’t bury the tension but hold it and give your consciousness a chance to work through it.

State a preference: You know what you want for yourself and for those you lead. Stand up for the values and dignities of your heart and watch the shadows lighten.

Lead from Within: Do opposites exist? Yes. Do we struggle with dualities? Yes. Do we need these dualities? Yes. Life is changing, and our leadership must change too. The more we acknowledge our truth, the more we understand ourselves and others.

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36 Responses to “The Duality Of Leadership”

  1. Martina

    14. May, 2013

    Good post, as always Lolly.

    Yes, the way forward in our lives and in our leadership lies in honest assessment and acceptance of the light and dark that exists within us and in the world. The better we can “see” the world and people as they truly are, and the highest form of what they are capable of becoming, the better plans and calls to action we can make. We can find ways to honor the heart, and soul, of our leadership while continuing to honor others.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      14. May, 2013

      Jung speaks so eloquently on the subject of our dualities.
      We need both to lead, we need both to honor ourselves.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Jon Mertz

    14. May, 2013

    Spot on points, Lolly. We need to embrace the duality, thinking it through and then selected a path to lead from within forward. In particular, embracing the tension is what will enable us to get out of our comfort zone and explore the causes of the tensions. This will keep us energized, curious, and growing.

    Really like the thoughts in this article, Lolly! Thank you.

    Jon

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      14. May, 2013

      Thanks for your kind words, Jon.

      There are dualities in life and in leadership and if we want to be successful we must shine the flashlight on our realities.

      When we see ……..we can be seen.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Samantha

    14. May, 2013

    Excellent post Lolly.

    And TIMELY!

    Learning to embrace the dualities is so important right now. Especially after so much of our conditioning from the past as you mentioned regarding black and white, all or nothing thinking, labeling things and people as either good or evil, right or wrong.

    Along those lines, past thinking set us up for so much more shame attacks and hard reaction/resistance tendencies. i.e. if a ‘bad’ thought entered consciousness, this could bring on shame, guilt, label yourself ‘bad’, and as we try NOT to think about something, it’s like telling ourselves to stop thinking about a purple elephant. Difficult to stop doing!

    Thanks to the work of Jung and many others since then, we DO get to learn better ways of understanding our dualities. Instead of rejecting them, we can embrace them. Although I still tend to experience the ‘initial’ reactions, etc when things crop up if triggered enough (and yes, different things can still trigger me) I now have a much easier time moving into acceptance instead of trying to instantly ELIMINATE dualities within me when I notice them.

    In fact, my next post in my series will be about vulnerability. And sure enough, I’ve been given quite a few opportunities this past month to feel vulnerable! haha And sure enough, my ego does it’s job perfectly in that it does NOT want to feel vulnerable and goes into a fast and furious: shame, guilt, you shouldn’t be feeling that way, etc tirade. Before I can consciously move into….Acceptance.

    I accept that I am feeling vulnerable. (for whatever reason)

    When I’m not struggling AGAINST feeling vulnerable, then it can simply BE and I can relax enough to explore it to see what it’s trying to tell me.

    Great post Lolly.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      14. May, 2013

      You make a great point Samantha; when we are not struggling AGAINST feeling vulnerable, then it can simply BE and we can relax enough to explore it to see what it’s trying to tell us…

      Also we need both to move forward, we must experience weakness to feel our strength. we must sense struggle to acknowledge our strive!

      I feel we are all about two truths and we must find the balance.

      Thank you Samantha for your very insightful thought and comment.
      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  4. Sharon Reed

    14. May, 2013

    Lolly, I love your thoughts on the notion of ‘holding the tension’ as we embrace the duality of leadership and trusting ourselves in the process with patience.

    I often refer to this place of tension as leading in the ‘gray’ space; those places in which nothing is black or white and we are challenged to navigate and embrace these dualities of light and shadow, in both ourselves and others. Always easier said than done!

    Sharon

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      14. May, 2013

      The gray space as you call it Sharon is the space of where we know if we are in our heart.
      Because it takes heart and patience. Gray is not easy for those of us who have so much to give, so much to do, and so much to learn.

      Thanks Sharon for your comment. You know I love your heart and soul.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  5. Kent Julian

    14. May, 2013

    The best principles and practices in life and leadership are usually found in the midst of healthy tension between two positive ideas.

    Nice job, Lolly.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      14. May, 2013

      Stated beautifully; The best principles and practices in life and leadership are usually found in the midst of healthy tension between two positive ideas.

      Thanks for sharing your beautifully stated truth Kent!

      Reply to this comment
  6. Don Jensen

    14. May, 2013

    Great post! It reminds me of James Allen’s book, “As a Man Thinketh”

    Challenged and encouraged by your post!

    Thank you,

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      17. May, 2013

      Don,

      Duality is a theme that we have had through out the centuries. I do not know As a Man Thinketh. But I will look into it.

      Life is challenge and encouragement just like you stated.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  7. Panteli Tritchew

    14. May, 2013

    The ancient concept of Duality is one we struggle with daily. I’m struck by how early (and often) we are programmed to operate in a Right/Wrong duality from K-12. This is the right answer: checkmark; this is the wrong answer: Xmark. This conditioning can be a lifetime-sentence unless we engage and reflect from within.

    “You think [that] because you understand ‘one’ you must understand ‘two’, because one and one makes two. But you must also understand ‘and’.” Ancient Sufi saying

    Thanks Lolly! :)

    Reply to this comment
  8. john paul

    14. May, 2013

    Hi Lolly,

    Thank you for raising this important leadership principle! That is why i like the Chinese Taoist pinyin symbol because these forces are represented as a single circular/spherical (integrated) whole.

    Often when we think of left and right we see this spectrum of opposites as a linear (horizontal) construct. This leads to them or us, right or wrong, left or right thinking. We are at this point on the spectrum and they are way over there on the opposite side.

    The reality is that both sides are aspects of the other in a single uniform wholeness. In our darkness we can find light and in our light we can find darkness. In seeing both as aspects of the circle/sphere we can transcend the contrast and see the circle/sphere instead of drawing the line.

    Love,
    jp

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      17. May, 2013

      John,

      so true when you state, “The reality is that both sides are aspects of the other in a single uniform wholeness. In our darkness we can find light and in our light we can find darkness. In seeing both as aspects of the circle/sphere we can transcend the contrast and see the circle/sphere instead of drawing the line”

      Well stated!

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  9. Garren Fagaragan

    14. May, 2013

    aloha Lolly…

    Intriguing topic…duality. Thank you.

    I have a different view…a biased
    view on the subject.

    Coming from a Dzogchen perspective.

    Dualism…separation…me and other
    is the problem of all of our suffering.

    Our original…primordial nature is
    Non dualistic.

    How does this relate to leadership?

    Authenticity is found in the gaps of
    my monkey mind. Who I TRULY am.
    The space where non dual nature is
    and always has been.

    Vulnerability…absolutely.
    Imagine discovering that things are not
    as solid as they appear to be…
    like this concept of Garren…
    very threatening…vulnerable.

    Unity…from the beginning-less
    beginning…there has never been a
    separation between me and other. Its
    a false notion believed to be true…
    that’s why its called ignorance…i
    ignoring my true nature.

    For me personally… my path is about
    recognizing…settling into and abiding i
    n this nature.

    My objective is to BE and Lead from there…
    Lead from Within.

    Lolly…thanks again for initiating stimulating
    and meaningful dialogue.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Baba Eric

    14. May, 2013

    The dualities allows us to perform better both as humans and as leaders. It is the balance that nature also teaches-day and night. There has to be some form of balance in our everyday activities before we can achieve our desired goals. We cannot be the best at what we do without embracing the dualities-the high points and the low points. There are lessons to be learnt in the dualities.
    Very inspiring Lolly, thank you.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      17. May, 2013

      Baba

      Yes it is the balance of nature!

      Yes its the balance of everyday activities.

      There are many lessons to be learned in duality and we learn them every second of every day of our living.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  11. Simon Harvey

    14. May, 2013

    Lolly,

    Love it of course, brain food as alway.

    WE ARE NOW HERE yet WE ARE NO WHERE

    All this from one small movement of space.

    Our concepts of our world, our truths empower our actions. The duality of life is within our very being, we must believe so that we can exist.

    As Aristotle said ” Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

    To be able to look within with truth, is to start to understand such things as faith, love and compassion, and as you do this you can start to see the power that they hold within them.

    We are in flux, we live in a world of change, of movement and duality within our minds. I see the sun rise as another sees it fall, yet we are both wrong. Without darkness how could we ever perceive what light is, without you who I am.

    While I understand that to lead we must have followers perhaps all we really need is to believe, have faith that we do. To leadfromwithin there is no need to have any followers, but yourself and your own being. Your faith that you are going in the direction that you must go. The understanding that behind you is a place that you may never, because as you turn it becomes infront of you.

    There can be no balance without duality, we must understand our perspective to understand others. But we must also remember that what is in between us we may never know.

    Off to the chat now, thanks for this.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      14. May, 2013

      BRILLIANTLY STATED SIMON!

      To be able to look within with truth, is to start to understand such things as faith, love and compassion, and as you do this you can start to see the power that they hold within them.

      We are in flux, we live in a world of change, of movement and duality within our minds. I see the sun rise as another sees it fall, yet we are both wrong. Without darkness how could we ever perceive what light is, without you who I am.There can be no balance without duality, we must understand our perspective to understand others. But we must also remember that what is in between us we may never know.

      Thanks for sharing your ever so brilliant insights!

      Reply to this comment
  12. Karin Hurt

    14. May, 2013

    Holding the tension is so tricky and yet so vital. The very tension that can feel overwhelming may be exactly what we need to sit with in order to grow.

    Reply to this comment
  13. David Hain

    15. May, 2013

    Great post as usual Lolly! Also love Panteli’s contribution with the Sufi quote.

    Reply to this comment
  14. rlohariwala

    15. May, 2013

    THESE PAIRS OF OPPOSITES ARE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN BUT WE CAN NOT SEE BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN AT THE SAME TIME.DARK IS ABSENCE OF LIGHT,FEAR IS ABSENCE OF HOPE AND SO ON.LEADERS HAVE TO JUST MAKE OTHERS FORM THE HABIT OF LOOKING AT THE RIGHT SIDE.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Alejandro Clavel

    16. May, 2013

    Great post Lolly!

    Dualities are part of life, but as you stated, we need to embrace them. We struggle when we try to be honest with our loved ones, and at the same time we don’t dare to share some truths that could be hurtful. We label those situations as “white lies” to avoid confrontation and for that our honesty gets dinged.

    Best Regards!
    Alejandro

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      17. May, 2013

      ALejandro

      Thanks for sharing from your heart. Life is dualities and the more we can embrace it the more we can live fuller lives.

      Reply to this comment
  16. Dave Bratcher

    02. Jun, 2013

    Awesome assessment of how things have changed. We have the opportunity to either embrace the change or get left behind. As leaders, we can’t sit back and talk about “the good ole days”. Thanks Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
  17. Lisa

    27. Sep, 2014

    there is a wonderful video on this subject – the Twin Trails

    Reply to this comment

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