Three Paradoxes In Our Life

30th September 2020

Author: Pramod Veturi, CEO - International Business

When I am in coaching conversations, things get confusing sometimes. In some situations, the course of action could be “Be proactive, go out there, push or hustle,” and in some other situations, the course of action could be “Don’t push too hard. Give your best and let things pan out.”

Our life is all about the choices we get to exercise. What choice to exercise when? This is always a dilemma. Most of our choices fall into one of three categories. Should I take action, or should I not. My Feelings, should I follow them, or should I not? Should I Focus on something, or should I not?

These are three typical paradoxes of our life.


Action Paradox

You want the General Manager of your firm to be your mentor. You approach him. He says he can’t take you as a mentee because he does not have the time. You keep pushing him repeatedly even though he has said no. Eventually, he accedes to your request and takes you under his wings.

There is a Prospect to whom a salesperson has pitched a product. The prospect is stalling. The salesperson keeps pushing the client for the order. The more he does that, the more the prospect clams up, and the sale never happens. Action orientation in this situation is counterproductive.

In the first example, the more persistent you are, the better the result is. In the second example, the harder the sales push, the more elusive the deal.

So, when should we push, and when should we step back? 

Ask yourself what will happen if the decision is not in your favor?. If the outcome impacts you negatively, it probably means you are too attached to the decision. It may be a good time to step back. However, if you are not worried about the outcome, whether it goes in your favor or against you, then it is a good indication that you should push through aggressively.


Feelings Paradox

Your feelings guide you reliably in some situations, but your feelings betray you entirely in some other situations.

You are interviewing a few candidates for a role. You have shortlisted three candidates on merit. In making your final call, you have a gut feeling about one of them. You take the call, and the candidate turns out to be an absolute winner.

In contrast, a friend gives you are a stock tip. You get excited. The input from your friend biases your mind. It must be good if my friend is saying so. You have a good feeling about it. You back your feeling and invest. The decision proves to be disastrous.

Same gut-wrong outcomes. When should we allow our feelings to influence our decision, and when should we not?

When you are making a decision, look at your feelings. Are they driven by negative emotions like Greed, Fear, anger, etc., step back. If so, your feelings are very likely clouding your judgment. In such situations, rely on facts and information to help you make the right decision. On the other hand, you have all the necessary information to make an informed decision, but all things equal, you are faced with the dilemma of deciding. Let your feelings guide you.


Paradox Of Focus

You need to complete a project report. Unfortunately, you are not feeling inspired to start the work. You remind yourself that you have a deadline to meet. Setting your feelings aside, you get to work. You struggle and you feel like you are plodding. Despite your internal resistance, you work for 4 hours straight, and you knock off the report.

You have to prepare an innovative sales proposal, and you are struggling. However hard you try to focus, you struggle to come up with creative options. You decide to take a break. You go for a walk or sleep over the problem. The answer comes through like a flash of inspiration.

When do I push through the pain barrier and keep focus, and when do I take a break and let my subconscious mind resolve it?

Anything that requires disciplined effort, you should commit time no matter what. However, if something needs creative output, it may be worthwhile to let your mind work behind the scenes to come up with some solutions. Operational tasks-Show up with discipline and complete them. Creative tasks- You can procrastinate and let your subconscious mind gather as much information as possible to help you with an innovative solution.


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