Yes. No. Paradox. What???

This one might be a little taxing on the brain, but if you get today’s message, it’ll do you a lot of good.

Here we go:

Yes = No.

Now most likely, reading that, your mind went something like ‘Uh, no dude. Of course not’.

Which is precisely my point:

Whatever we see or think or feel or hear, our mind perceives it and then goes all binary on it.

Decides that it is, or is not, something.

Real, true, valuable, worthwhile, good, bad, interesting, boring… etc etc: the mind instantly classes something as ‘is’ or ‘is not’.

That’s what the mind does, it’s a binary machine made to assess and judge.

And while a well-developed mind can go a long way with that, even such a mind can only work with the limited amount of data it has available.

We can’t ever handle all possible data, because there simply is too much data available to fit into our mind.

So that judgey machine we have does the best it can with incomplete data, and while it might often create correct opinions or assessments, it’s just as likely to be proven wrong later when more data comes in.

Simply consider the times you judged someone by first impression, only to later realise you had it wrong. With me? Right.

So the point today is that ‘yes = no’ is a logical fallacy, it’s (ha!) incorrect.

And that’s exactly the point I want to get across to you:

That there’s a paradox in many things, where stuff just doesn’t make sense, or contradicts with what we consider facts, or with opinions we have.

What happens most of the time, is that we then get stuck up in our heads, start to analyse more, judge more, weigh facts and figures and opinions.

Before long (often instantly) we’re locked up inside our heads, milling over things without getting anywhere.

And that, my friends, does not make sense.

That’s not ‘thinking’ – it’s just mental churn.

Mental churn is tiring, ineffective, and exceedingly costly in terms of the cognitive energy it spends.

So when I say ‘yes = no’, it’s my recommendation to learn to appreciate paradox. To become comfortable with uncertainty.

When you manage to get to that point, you’ll be able to mentally look at things from various angles, considering options, testing theories.

You’ll be thinking properly, because instead of trying to fit things into boxes named yes or no, you’ll be elegantly exploring all the different ways things can be, be defined, or be combined.

You’ll allow intuition to bring in ideas, and you’ll be thinking in an open, non-attached way, where your mind isn’t playing dictator over your thoughts.

If you want to think better, the trick is to accept uncertainty, and learn to love paradox.

A daring challenge though, given how much we want to cling to our opinions and the fake certainty they give.

Do you dare?

Give it a try. You’ll find it exquisitely liberating.

Cheers,

Martin

P.s. The above is also why the question ‘what if that were not true’ is such a powerful question to ask yourself, or friend, or business partner. I use the question a lot in my coaching and it always causes a breakthrough. Hit reply if you’d like to talk and have me lob a few breakthrough questions atcha.


Also published on Medium.

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