Lately I’ve been cultivating what Roger Martin in his book The Opposable Mind calls »integrative thinking«, what Nicholas of Cusa in 1440 called the »coincidencia oppoistorum« or what is also known as alchemical thinking. To put it in my own words – the »sowohl als auch« mindset.
In my experience this state of being is incredibly powerful in opening the gates to creativity and results in more intelligent problem-solving strategies when facing complex challenges and radical life changes.
So what does it mean?
Roger Martin explained it well in an interview: »Integrative thinking is the ability to face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a NEW idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each.«
When I’m talking with people I often get questions along the lines of these: My boss is not trusting me with this very important project. Is this good or bad? Or: My girlfriend is breaking up with me. This is has to be the most horrible thing that has ever happend to me, right? Or: I’ve been so tired and lazy lately. I have no doubt this is destructive for my productivity… don’t you think? My answer is often: It’s not »either-or«, it’s »both-and«. Or in German »sowohl als auch«.
What if the drama that you are percieving is actually bliss, or an abrupt end is simply an amazing new beginning? What if your laziness is just a state of deep rest before the next creative wave?
When we go »meta«…
…we give the opposite perspective a chance to be true. We often realize that both perspectives can be equally true – thus instantaneously both perspectives become irrelevant. Scary? Maybe. But just after this trick, the mind comes to a screeching halt. We connect to the present moment, relax, giggle and become capable of integrating giving space for a fresh even supperior perspective.
I know that a lot of people out there rely on their scientific, black or white, egoic rational – but could it be that this mindset is limited in solve real life challenges? Next time you get stuck in one perspective, give it a try. Try to find proof for the complete opposite perspective to be true and see what happens. Or don’t. I don’t mind. 🙂
Terence Mckenna: »It is only in a coincidencia oppositorum, a union of opposites, that does not strive for closure, that we are going to find cultural sanity.«