The Real Power of ‘And’

Colin, a little 6-month-old Jack Russell puppy approach the 12-year-old grumpy resident Persian cat. The cat is not impressed that her pet guardian had gotten a new inquisitive bouncy pup. The pup has his eye on the cushion that the cat is lying on. He cajoles, he crawls and he makes little whimpering noises, as though to say, “Please let me have the cushion. I am only a pup!” The Persian cat hisses and swipes the puppy’s nose, albeit gently, so no blood is drawn. The Jack Russell pup jumps back and starts again, bravely taking two steps forward and cautiously taking one step back. Over a few minutes of moving forward and backwards, the puppy miraculously managed to grovels BESIDE the Persian cat and snuggle next to her. The cat turned into a calmer state and permitted him to stay on the same cushion.

On the other side of town, Cameron, a six-year-old Golden Retriever was at the park playing doggy frisbee with his guardian. His guardian was throwing a soft frisbee at him as he chased and tried to catch it in the air. It was his favourite game. Just beside them, was a Whippet playing fetch-the-Kong with her guardian. At one fortuitous moment, both his frisbee and the other dog’s Kong were thrown together towards him. He looked at both, excited and wanting to catch the two prizes. ‘Which one?’ he thought looking from the left at the frisbee and right at the Kong. Totally confused and full of hesitation to commit, he stood his ground and barked. Finally, he chose and ran towards the Kong which was nearer. However, it was too late and the Whippet had gotten it first. He then turned and ran towards his frisbee, only to find another Jack Russell running away with it! Cameron was not pleased at all!

What can we learn from both events? You may have heard of the concept of embracing the ‘Power of And’ and rejecting the ‘Tyranny of Or’. It implies that those who succeed had embraced the concept of having seemingly opposite feelings, thoughts and objectives where those who only can choose one did not succeed. Is that completely true? Do we need to totally embrace the ‘Power of And’ to succeed? If we do choose one, are we really subjected to the ‘Tyranny of Or’ and fail? Is one idea exclusive of the other? If not, how do we choose when to adopt what? Let’s examine this concept using the examples above.

Colin had embraced the Power of And. He was feeling fearful and courageous at the same time. He was moving forwards and backwards at the same time. He held respect for the Persian cat and himself at the same time. He was conscious of what the Persian cat could do but also aware of what he wanted. And because he had embraced the Power of And, he succeeded. On the other hand, Cameron wanted both objects and yet in doing so, he had lost both. You could say that he tried to embrace the Power of And,  so what went wrong?

In your life, are there moments where you have set your goals high and standards even higher, when you make no excuses, just did your best and obtained the results that you want? You pushed yourself despite the challenges life threw at you. You continued beyond the expectations of all around you trying to pull you back, saying things like, “You can’t do ______ and _____ at the same time” or “You can’t do ______ because you are ______.” You ignored them, trusted yourself and succeeded as a result.

Here are some examples of seemingly contradicting situations. For example, always take action (not procrastinate) and try new things, broadening your references or saying ‘no’ so you can focus on your goals? Do you spend all your energy in perfecting a skill or become a Jack of all trades? Do you give up on something you are not good at or practise until you master it? For all situations, it would seem impossible to embrace the Power of And for you cannot have it both ways. So what do you do?

Are there also instances where you find yourself overwhelmed and helpless because you tried to do too much? Using the same mentality of embracing the Power of And, you found yourself stuck as you had too much on your plate and as a result, did not get the results you desired in all areas or you only succeeded in one part but not the other. It is only by giving some things up (adopting the Tyranny of Or) that you could pursue and succeed in other areas. How do you know when is right to embrace the Power of And and when is more appropriate to abandon that idea and be selective instead?

The answer lies in empowerment. The choice you make should empower you, not hinder you to receive the results you want. It can be very easy to say, “Because I am a high achiever, I always adopt the Power of And” and burn out (or not receive the results you want) because you are doing too much. In other instances, you may just be confused thinking, “I am trying to adopt the Power of And but I am not getting results, does that mean that I am incapable of being a high achiever?” Well, the answer lies in selection. The choice you make should empower you. Adopting the Power of And should empower you to step closer to your desired results based on your current (and growing) capability and capacity. Where it is healthy to stretch your potential and ability (which means you are growing), if you are finding yourself stuck or not getting the results you want, it is no longer embracing the Power of And and it may just simply be you are too greedy or performing beyond your (current) abilities.

Embracing the Power of And should allow you to push yourself to improve, internally and externally. It should not hinder you, make you confused and/or deny results from you. When it does, it may indicate that your ability or understanding has not reached the level of being able to do so yet and you may simply require more time before being able to adopt the Power of And in that instance. A high performer is not one who solely embraces the Power of And. She is one who also understands when to push or pull and to what degree. To take it to a higher level, to be able to understand that there are times to adopt the Power of And and there are also times to choose is actually embracing the Power of And for you are holding two opposing thoughts in your head (which is a mark of first-rate intelligence).

So in short, know your goals clearly, ask yourself if adopting the Power of And OR choosing will allow(empower) you to get there sooner. Then choose the method that works. Colin knew he had to conquer his fear to get what he wanted. Perhaps Cameron should have just stayed contented with his frisbee instead of being distracted and losing both toys in the end. Do you know your goals clear enough to adopt the right mindset appropriately?

“Be rigid in your goals and flexible in your approach”

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