Friday, September 25, 2015

The greatest advantage is to not need it

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 miss it. 

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 response. 

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. 

Have you embraced the phenomenon of paradoxical unity?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
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