Traditionally we consider opposites as mutually exclusive and between which we must choose: abundance or sobriety, plan or improvise, economics or ecology, repression or prevention. This one-sided ‘either/or’ thinking has major limitations. Moreover, the ‘either/or’ thinking is at the root of the most important issues of our time.

Being able to deal with opposites in an equal manner and to switch between them fluently is the recipe for happiness and success in the 21st century. From a stimulating ‘both/and’ perspective opposites are inseparable and they provide balance, dynamics, innovation and agility. This new perspective means rethinking all aspects of our lives: from ecology to sexuality, from lifestyle to religion, from relationships to management.

In all these areas there is a silent ‘both/and’ revolution going on. Strict boundaries between opposites are getting much more fluid and are dissolving: between work and life, between tradition and modernity, between male and female, between consumer and producer, between high culture and popular culture, between authenticity and role-playing. The art of paradoxical life is learning to play with these opposites, bringing them closer together, combining them, switching between them, balancing them or even uniting them into something completely new: wild nature in the city, performing while playing, servant leadership, down-to-earth spirituality, green economy, waste as a resource, consumers as co-producers, scarves with miniskirts, oysters with kiwifruit.

The ‘both/and’ perspective affects fundamentally the way in which we live our lives, as well as the way in which we shape organizations and the society as a whole. It always starts with our selves. He who is able to switch smoothly between opposites, not only creates the foundation for a balanced, happy, tolerant and sustainable lifestyle but will also adapt easier to a rapidly changing world.

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