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August 29, 2007

A Philosophy of Gray

I know in many instances it is more efficient and effective to place all of your bets on one strategy, especially when working on a start-up company with limited cash.  Although when going about life, I find it interesting how people like to be one thing instead of adopting a bi-pole philosophy.  If you approach life from only one angle, then you will surely be able to capitalize on all of the opportunities that present themselves along that angle, and you will become more specialized at that view.  But at a point, the amount that you gain from that angle no longer matches the energy and effort you put into it.  You will also miss other opportunities that present themselves and it will be harder to make yourself flexible to meet new situations.

I've adopted a philosophy of gray, where I work on using both poles at the same time to maintain my flexibility to react to new situations as they present themselves.  I work on keeping these poles in constant competition and cooperation, so that I can mix and match them as necessary.  For example when solving a problem, I work on deducing the core problem that everything else seems to hinge on, then finding through induction how changing this bit many different ways may alter the system.  This is both an art and science as the questions you need to ask for a given situation are not set in stone and the path to exploring it zig-zags a lot.  There are also many dependencies that you need to account for when solving these problems.  Granted, sometimes this strategy does not work as there might not be a core problem, and in those situations I work on finding a tool set that does.

An analogy for a philosophy of gray is to view everything that you are and can do as a tool.  For example, I'm an ENTJ, the field marshal.  This doesn't mean that I always act like all of these traits.  Sometimes I seclude myself into a cave, other times something I see sends a feeling of passion through me, or I might sit back and watch what is going on in the world.  Instead of saying this is all I am, why not view each letter as a tool?  Sometimes being surrounded by people is the best way to regain my energy, other times a good book will do.  Sometimes I need to judge quickly, other times I need to take a step back and smell the flowers. 

This entire thought process came to me, because of how many self-help books there are proclaiming how you should lead your life a certain way - granted if I wrote a book about this I'd be in the same league, haha.  A friend of mine has been reading a lot of these books and is convinced that

  1. that the world is moving in a direction where it will require you to be right-brain dominant to lead.
  2. and conversly, being left-brain dominant will not allow you to become a leader in the world of the future. 

I argued that he'd be most valuable if he was both right and left-brain dominant and knew when to use each of them to his advantage.  Without a combination of logic and creativity, it's more difficult to ask the tough questions and generate spontaneous ideas that you can back-up with documented research.

I personally enjoy the flexibility that being gray allows. :)


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Indeed, there seems as if something insidious about our culture, that discourages striving toward broad based excellence, and perhaps, just perhaps, because such a person manifestly accomplished in multifarious, and SEEMINGLY divergent endeavors, might make a better upper-level manager, than an hourly employee, and an even better investor, than an executive.

For better and worse, I tend to concur that capitalism has resulted in an organizational pyramid, though if you asked me who was at the top, I would say at some point it becomes a little mute. My point being, if wealth sets fashion, then the forementioned proclivities, become a tad more transparent, assumptions provided. Viva la renaissance!


Keeping something in, "CONSTANT competition AND cooperation" (emphasis added,) sounds like it would be too much of the wrong kind of work, however for personal purposes, I have found the notion of flipping the metaphorical pyramid over, quite useful, or there is the notion of a tree swaying between dynamics; the bigger the tree, and deeper the roots the less the tree has to sway. For that matter even building sways. Speaking from experience, to sway in a circle is a most delightful inner experience!

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