Tag Archive for 'business success'

Value your negatives with paradoxical thinking

Paradox: When two things – like words, traits or situations – seem illogical and/or contradictory, but may in fact, be compatible, justified or true.

It’s difficult to imagine anything more interesting about humans than how paradoxical we are. But that’s not a word most of us want to apply to ourselves because it sounds negative. And we sure don’t like dwelling on our negatives — not that we have any — just the good stuff.  Nevertheless, we humans are at once a sweet and sour, but always spicy Brunswick stew of paradoxes.

My friend, Kelle Olwyler, co-author of “Paradoxical Thinking,” says we have aspects of our character that we may view as negative and, consequently, try to eliminate. But here’s a newsflash: Olwyler’s research shows that these negative aspects are, “actually just as essential to who we are as the parts of us that we like.”  Thus, the paradox.

Olwyler says, “Eliminating our negatives is like trying to eliminate one side of a pendulum swing.” She defines paradoxical thinking as, “accepting and valuing our paradoxes, as well as understanding those of people with whom we associate. It’s the process of consciously bringing together our two paradoxical sides to achieve outstanding results.”

Paradoxical thinking actually gives us permission to not hate our negatives. For example:

-  If you’re sometimes intense or aggressive, the other end of that pendulum swing manifests as an outgoing nature with a sense of urgency that contributes to success in sales.

-  Your family may think you’re a workaholic, while benefitting from the fruits of your efforts.

-  Some might consider you unorganized, but your creativity arises from regarding clutter differently than your more structured peers.

Focusing only on the negatives of our paradoxes is destructive. Conversely, paradoxical thinking allows us to recognize, value and manage both sides of the pendulum that makes up who we are.

Consider the three previous examples now with paradoxical thinking:

-  By recognizing your aggressive tendency, you can channel it appropriately and maximize that trait.

-  By accepting that you like working, and indeed must work, you and your family can identify ways to accomplish your professional goals in concert with those of the family.

-  By assigning organization to someone else, you can focus more productively on things that you see but are “outside the box” for others.

Finally, if you’re having trouble finding your negatives, when you see someone behaving in a way that’s really annoying, the chances are excellent they sometimes feel the same way about you. Ouch! This paradoxical thinking can sting a little.

Humans are dimples and warts all rolled into the cutest bundles of annoyingly endearing characteristics.

Write this on a rock…. Without the warts our dimples wouldn’t be so cute.

Jim Blasingame is the author of the award-winning book, “The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.”

Beware of the maxim that can become a lie

The maxim is one of the most interesting of expressions because in its definition we find both truth and consequences.

Webster says a maxim is a “generally accepted truth.” But that makes it sound like we voted on it, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t the truth be beyond debate? Well, that’s why something is a maxim; it’s merely “accepted” as the truth, and therein lie the consequences.

In the world of leadership, one of the best examples of a maxim is “It’s lonely at the top.”

But must it be?

Small business owners know all about being lonely at the top. Even though being atop a small business isn’t very high in the greater marketplace, no Fortune 500 CEO can move the loneliness needle as far as an entrepreneur can. But small business loneliness is a self-imposed exile that we don’t have to accept as the truth.

Maxims are usually harmless, unless they turn out to be untrue. For example, sometimes taking the maxim “It’s lonely at the top” too far can actually manifest as dangerous lies.

CC Photo via Pixabay

CC Photo via Pixabay

Lie #1: I’m supposed to know how to solve this.

Lie #2: I shouldn’t ask for help because I’m the only one with this problem.

Lie #3: Admitting I have a problem makes me appear ignorant and uncompetitive.

Lie #4: I don’t know anyone who can help me.

Lie #5: Even if I found someone to advise me, I can’t afford it.

When you allow any of these lies to become maxims the consequence can be maximum failure.

In the 16th chapter of Proverbs, King Solomon coined a maxim that should be prominently displayed in every business owner’s office: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with advisors, they succeed.”

Here are some of the places small businesses can get counsel, from free to fee.

No Cost: Local peer-to-peer mastermind groups; Small Business Development Centers (SBDC); SCORE.org.

Zero to $250: Local chamber of commerce; continuing ed classes; industry trade groups.

Budget Required: Consultants; franchise peer groups, like Vistage or The Alternative Board; legal, accounting, etc.

Remember, “It’s lonely at the top” - and the five lies - get maxim status only if you accept them. Since you didn’t get where you are today by being a conformist, why start now?

Listen to the wise man, and seek counsel.  Otherwise you could become painfully acquainted with another maxim in Proverbs 16: “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Write this on a rock… Abandon the exile, lose the martyr act and ask for help.

Entrepreneurs: Keep climbing toward success

In a former life, whenever I felt deficient in my ability to meet a particular challenge, one of my mentors would say to me, “This is no hill for a climber,” followed immediately by, “and you’re a climber.”
Today, whenever I’m feeling deficient in my ability to meet the challenges of my small business, I say these words to myself, “This is no hill for a climber and I’m a climber.”
In an even earlier life, growing up on a farm, we had an old two-ton Studebaker truck. This was a brute of a truck, with a very special feature: one really low gear. My dad called that gear “grandma.”
Whenever we had a heavy load to haul and a steep grade to climb, Dad would say, “Put it in grandma.” In “grandma” that old truck wouldn’t go more than a couple of miles an hour, but it would pull or haul anything, anywhere. Even when the pulling got really tough that truck might jerk and buck, but it never stopped pulling.


Small business owners have a special gear similar to the one on that truck. Our “grandma” gear is made up of the cogs of grit and determination, and the sprockets of courage and passion.

VIDEO: Your future business success is tied to mobile

Your small business success is tied to mobile. In this New Age of the Customer®, it’s more important than ever to prepare for the moment of relevance.

Your future success is tied to mobile from Jim Blasingame on Vimeo.




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