Thoreau famously said that happiness is like a butterfly. The
more we chase it, the more it will elude us, but if we turn our attention to
other things, it will come and sit softly on our shoulder.
Taoist scholars call this experience paradoxical
unity, in which any over determined action produces its exact opposite.
Consciously try to grab it, and it’s gone. The moment we try to catch it, we
Sound like spiritual mumbo jumbo? It’s not. Paradoxical unity is very
real thing, even if it’s not called by that particular name.
Baumeister’s research on the
emotional regulation of top athletic performers helps make sense of this
phenomenon. He explains that there is
a cruel irony about choking under pressure. You’re directing your conscious
attention to the process of performance, in order to help run the show and make
certain that everything is done right. But the conscious mind does not hold the
knowledge of how to execute the performance properly. And so, your increased
conscious attention interferes with the automatic quality of the well learned
It’s that damn butterfly. Paradoxical unity. Any over
determined action produces its exact opposite. The moment we try to catch it,
we miss it.
What’s interesting is when we start applying that concept to
business. Especially the sales process. Because the moment we start
telegraphing neediness, buyers can smell it. The very act of trying
contaminates the result.
On the other hand, when we’re willing to walk away
from new business, buyers can’t help but be attracted to our confidence and
sense of restraint. Saying no to a person in power is like chum in the water.
To paraphrase from the aforementioned scripture, when you desire nothing, a
great deal comes to you; when you show you want it, the less likely you are to
get it; when you telegraph neediness, you get less of what you desire; and when
you stop seeking the world, you allow the to world come to you.
Try not needing
something. You’ll be surprised how many doors that posture can open.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Have you embraced the phenomenon of paradoxical unity?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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