Pick a side…or not

Several years ago, someone wrote a comment on one of my Linkedin posts that made a strong point and then said “So which side is it Lynn? You have a to pick a side.” I don’t even remember the issue. What I do remember was that the comment annoyed me. It wasn’t an either/or issue. It was a both/and issue. My annoyance came from unknowingly buying into his belief that I had to pick a side, even though there were valid elements on both sides of the issue. The problem he was trying to solve would never be solved from just one side of the issue.

It would have been nice to figure all of that out at the time. My brilliant come back didn’t happen until many months later, when it was too late to reply.

The question of being on one side or the other has been on my mind a lot lately. In many cases where there are two sides to an issue, there is also a place in the middle, almost like a teeter totter, that brings the two sides to a balanced solution.

In my podcast with Nahshon Cook last week, he talked about it as being “in the river”, not on one side or the other of the cliffs on either side. Throughout our conversation, I noted how well he could hold two seemingly contradictory notions in his mind at the same time. In one notable moment, he refused to pick a side on horse training methods, even though I set him up to agree with the side I had so clearly picked. Instead, he beautifully described how there is a place for the different ways of thinking.

Nothing I write here will do justice to the part of our conversation where Nahshon described returning home from Thailand to realize that his cousin had been murdered – and that her killer was acquitted. What struck me most was that he has chosen not to swallow the poison pill of bitterness in hopes that her killer will somehow receive justice. He is taking a both/and approach to navigating his grief; it’s a lesson in forgiveness and in deep human change.

This conversation has challenged me to catch myself picking sides when a more holistic view is called for. The world is full of “both/and” issues that we treat as “either/or”. In our businesses, we have to manage both the long and short term. We have to both spend money and save money. We have to both ask for help and give help. The list is endless.

Where are you picking sides? Where would a holistic view help with solving the problems you are facing? What elements of the issue are you avoiding?