Feeling overwhelmed? Move from Balance to Harmony

Harmony I say? What does this mean and where does it come from?

This post at first may not seem to have to do much with creativity and other themes that dominate my writings but bear with me, I think it does. There are many inspirations for snippets in this post, but in the end it is the aggregate of at least 10 years of bubbling. If you recognise some elements, that’s most likely because we live on the same Planet.

Why Balance may not be all it’s cracked up to be

The reasons for this post stem from many personal experiences where “striving for Balance” would be the regular advice. An advice that on most occasions did not energise me one bit. Balance seems undebatable as a good thing to aim for. The main image that pops in my mind however is a standstill. A scenario of Mutually Assured Destruction to ‘ensure’ that nothing bad actually happens. Choosing the middle ground between two extremes which both could potentially have great benefits but also serious consequences. Striving for Balance wrings all juice out of the possible excitement and promises us to turn our complex challenges into one-dimensional dilemmas that you can solve by sitting in the middle of the options, compromising, feeling equally unhappy about not being able to choose one of the more exciting options.

Really? Is there no other way to approach life?

Beyond Balance

Based on the many common dilemmas that most people are fearing, which I will share below, I started looking at this differently. It occurred to be that we might look at such dilemmas and seeming contractions as invitations to get going more Harmony. To me, this is about embracing the many paradoxes around us instead of being afraid of them. Organise inputs, disorganise them and reorganise them differently, but without considering them as binary choices. .

It’s not the same as the hipster cheerleadingly praised Art of not Giving a F***. It’s the more subtle Art of Turning seeming contradictions into new Pathways, or even wholly irrelevant. As you may observe by the end of this post, when you have more appreciation for this Art it will be hard to deny that you are getting better at mastering Creativity. Or Life itself, for that matter.

From Battle, i.e., balancing the extremes…

To go from the conceptual to the practical, below I share a list, that you can extend yourself, with contradictions and dilemmas that I imagine many people often encounter. Some of these are directly related to the fields of creativity and innovation, others are more general. The aim for balance then implies “a bit of both” for each of these dilemmas. See if you recognise them:

  • Taking a rest vs Being Dynamic: rest does not bring you anywhere, being in constant motion is tiring
  • Knowledge vs Intuition: being ‘limited’ by what you know vs venturing to beyond-cognition areas
  • Deep expertise (Elevators) vs Broad interests (tunnels): avoiding superficiality vs knowing just enough about anything
  • The 3 Ps of Sustainability: they need to be “Balanced”,  i.e. be exactly equal, implying, be expressed in one unit which in practice means, financial metrics
  • Knowns vs Unknowns: only working with things that are certain vs taking into account any scenario conceivable in this universe.
  • Solving vs Opening up: focusing on convergent vs divergent abilities.
  • Targets vs Uncertainty: making goals explicit provides focus, but how to know what will happen?
  • Zooming in vs Zooming out: Focus & scope gives meaning but what is meaning without a bigger picture?
  • Lame vs Sophisticated (e.g. in case of jokes): the line between the two is razor-thin
  • Questions vs Answers: do you want to open up the search space or close it?
  • Linear vs Circular: we need to think more circular but the current systems are mostly still linear
  • Useful vs Novel: useful means it will in fact be used, novel means it will get more attention
  • Polite vs Direct/ Blunt: being polite keeps the door open but little may move, being direct can close doors but until then move things really fast.
  • Simple vs Complicated: oh how we wish things would be simpler but well, Life is Complicated
  • Altruistic vs Selfish: most of us would like to do nice things for others, but own survival remains prio #1
  • Shy vs Cocky: “Cocky people own half the world”, so that implies that the other half is still up for grabs?
  • Product vs Process: what should innovation prioritise, a replicable process or an excellent product?
  • Vision (high level) vs Focus (concrete): we need an awe-inspiring Why, but without good execution (What) forget it.
  • Circumventing Resistance vs Seeing all your plans shot down: getting early buy-in can help vs early communication means risk of meddling by others.

And so on, and so on. I am sure you can add more of such situations.

… to Harmony, new pathways that make dilemmas irrelevant

How can an attitude of striving for Harmony instead of Balance between the seeming extremes help you forward? It may be similar to Yin-Yanging the bastards, I am not sure but won’t let myself be distracted by that uncertainty:.To me, Harmony means to look for new directions to overcoming something by not considering the two extremes as opposites but as parents whose child needs to have their own identify as well. Cherish the good, but don;t be afraid to add your own variables to the equation..

  • Taking a rest vs Being Dynamic: you sleep and are awake, aren’t you? You need both
  • Knowledge vs Intuition: Intuition is in fact based on unconscious knowledge build-up
  • Deep expertise (Elevators) vs Broad interests (tunnels): making cross-connections (ladders)
  • The 3 Ps of Sustainability: need to be expressed in their own units to keep their strength
  • Knowns vs Unknowns: Not Knowing is an Invitation, not a hurdle
  • Solving vs Opening up: Navigate your way through the search space, solving limits your mind
  • Targets Vs Uncertainty: work with Intent and assess whether performance is in line.
  • Zooming in vs Zooming out: similar to rest and dynamics, consider this as Breathing: the two belong together
  • Lame vs Sophisticated (e.g. in case of jokes): humour is 30% content and 70% timing, that makes the difference
  • Questions vs Answers: both can be inquisitive or Lazy so make sure both are the former
  • Linear vs Circular: circular implies that you end up where you started. Think in upward Spirals instead.
  • Useful vs Novel: apply satisficing: to be adopted an idea needs to be new enough but still conceivable, i.e. it needs to reside in an area called “the adjacent possible” (a well known innovation-term)
  • Polite vs Direct/ Blunt: if you are vulnerable and constructive direct comments have a context
  • Simple vs Complicated: Life is Complex, which basically means: embrace connections
  • Altruistic vs Selfish: be Generous in ways that you consider to be appropriate
  • Shy vs Cocky: be assertive, but humble in knowing that imperfections are beautiful
  • Product vs Process: both mean nothing without considering People, a point made at this event.
  • Vision (high level) vs Focus (concrete): both vision and focus can be born out of Curiosity or not,
  • Circumventing Resistance vs Seeing all your plans shot down: “Without Friction it remains Fiction“. Consider criticism to be a compliment and food for improvement and ignore once that is no longer the case.

Overarching patterns

It should not be too difficult to derive some overarching patterns from these examples. Looking from where I am standing, such a pattern would be dominated by explicitly acknowledging elements that are abundantly present if we only want to seem them, and use them: Rhythm, Co-existence, Inquisitiveness, Tilting to get a different Perspective.

It’s getting too familiar now. I have sad what I wanted to say. The greatest compliment would be to notice that you start discovering your own dilemmas and ways to address them by using the Harmony-principle.