Paradoxes

I wanted to post this video that Ruth found for our paradoxes team presentation/learning activity. I like the feeling it carries and it does bring up some of the paradoxes of life today in a globalized world.

The paradoxes explored in Smith and Berg’s “Paradoxes of Group Life” are such a fascinating topic.  It seems we so often want to have a final answer to a problem or situation. However, the concept of the paradox is that you can have two seemingly contradictory views that are both essentially true. Woa! Ruminate on that for a while, and a while longer…

Identity – if I join the group (or perhaps even have an exchange with another individual…?), will I loose my identity? But maybe I could also gain something about myself if I step out.

And then there’s disclosure – if I disclose the parts of myself I am unhappy with and want to change, maybe I will be rejected by the other(s). And if I don’t, I won’t really be authentic. I’m only making a show. How much do I reveal?

And what really caught my attention was the paradox of authority. It is about authorizing – both others and myself. If I authorize another to act on my behalf, then in a sense it means I am giving my part in that act to them to carry out. To me, this implies a need for trust. That my ideas, interests, hopes, needs are taken into consideration by the other. Of course, I know that my views and interests may not always be the best or most effective way to go, but at least if they are considered and valued, it would be a motivation for me to continue contributing energetically and enthusiastically. Then there is the idea that with authority there is the access to power. And power can be used for yourself or it can be used to empower others. If you only take the power and use it for yourself, then others will not feel like their contributions are valued and may loose motivation and interest and creativity… However, if the one who has access to power uses it to empower others, then others will feel valued and then the one who has given the power away will also get it back…!! bizarre..

This makes me look at the concept of power differently. I used to have difficulty with the concept of power, but now I see that it is really just the way it is used. I guess the challenge is that when you have access to power, you get a bit intoxicated by it and then don’t like giving it away so much! In a sense, it seems that real power is about recognizing the ability of others to be of value and contribute, at least in their potential to do so. It’s about giving away any power you have.

But then, there are times that it’s surely necessary to authorize yourself too. Yes, indeed, what a paradox. and… what a dance!

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