There Are No One-Sided Coins by Joel Peterson

There Are No One-Sided Coins by Joel Peterson


Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of good company.


Einstein himself never found a way to reconcile the theories of the cosmically large (general relativity) and the vanishingly small (quantum mechanics). But both constructs, incompatible as they’ve been for a century, remain the pillars of modern physics.


Likewise, no one’s discovered a unifying approach to success in work and life – and maybe there isn’t one. So rather than looking for a grand solution, learn to embrace contradiction. After all, opposites are often just two halves of a greater whole: two sides of the same coin.


Here are a few ideas that may help you to embrace life’s opposing forces, to confidently navigate the next phase of your journey:


  • Setting goals is vital; ignoring them is key. Don’t do anything that matters without first      setting a goal. Aim high, ignore naysayers,      and do it with feeling. But do it all in pencil. Having goals helps you      take the first step on a path. But once you’re moving, things change fast,      and you may have to alter or abandon your old course in favor of a newer,      better one. The best entrepreneurs reimagine their businesses several      times on the way to success. Dwight Eisenhower, the architect of the D-Day      invasion claimed, “plans are nothing; planning is everything.”
  • Master the rules; master breaking them. It’s often said that Picasso learned to “draw like      Ingres,” the beautifully precise      French portraitist –      before Picasso learned to draw like Picasso. You too should become expert      in the forms of your trade, and learn how to color within the lines as      well as anyone. Know the details – cosmic and quantum – of how your      business or field works. That knowledge will enable you to spot the most glaring      weaknesses in the old model, so you can be the person to create a new one.
  • Soar and “strafe.”      You’ve got to see the world from 30,000 feet – and from ground level: the      forest and the trees. Only at high altitude can you absorb all you need to      plan the big picture strategy. But it’s on the ground that your plans      become reality. Agility in moving from big to small and back again allows      you to stay flexible, and to keep strategy in line with tactics.
  • Be generous and self-interested. We’re all self-interested – either in a more      enlightened, long-term way, or in a benighted short-term way. Make your      self-interest of the long-term variety and try to forgive others who are      more concerned with what they can get right away. Indeed, generosity      toward others’ myopia can be contagious. As your goodwill rubs off, you      may find (and here’s the self-interest again) that you get back a lot more      than you expected.
  • Trust, and expect betrayal. If you never get burned, maybe you’re not lighting      enough fires. Wariness can sometimes protect you from others’ mischief;      but if you allow yourself to become paranoid, you’ll spend all your time      and energy finding ways to insulate yourself from damage. Better to take      the risk and – when you feel you have reason to – put your trust in      someone’s abilities. You’ll often find that your faith empowers them to      grow and accomplish far more than they thought they could. Yes, some      people will let you down or sell you out – but in the long run, those      scars will be more than made up for by the many successes your belief made      possible.

The odds are you’ll find more meaning in your life by taking a path filled with regular dilemmas, contradictions and paradoxes. More often than not, big truths lie beyond boundaries you initially perceive. Don’t think of the coin as either heads or tails; imagine it while it’s still spinning through the air, offering both sides at once.