Tim Arnold, this week’s guest on the Higher Purpose Podcast, is no stranger to tension. He was a team building and leadership development consultant for 10 years before starting and running a homeless shelter. Today he is the author of The Power of Healthy Tension as well as a sought after speaker. A critical lesson he learned throughout his career was that decisions – and life! – are not always this OR that; many times it’s a matter of managing this AND that. These dilemmas are called key tensions. He chats with Kevin Monroe about these key tensions and how to manage them on the road less traveled.
It’s All Preparation
When Tim decided to leave the consulting business to open a homeless shelter, he felt that he was starting a totally new chapter in his life. He soon realized, however, that his prior experience was preparing him for this new path. He says that when you choose to live a purpose-oriented life you should assume that your experiences – good and bad – have all been preparation for the present. Teaching the concept of healthy tension for so many years prepared him to apply it at the shelter, often in very challenging situations.
Kevin asks Tim to define the concept of healthy tension. Tim explains that we’ve been conditioned to see things from an either-or perspective, that decisions are problems to solve and we should choose the right answer. While problem-solving is a critical and laudable skill, there are situations in life that are not problems to solve but tensions to manage. In these moments we have to be able to hold two opposing positions in tension, or adopt an ‘and’ mindset instead of an ‘either-or’ one. For example, manage both flexibility AND structure, don’t try to choose either only flexibility OR only structure. If we want to achieve our higher aspirations, there are some underlying tensions in work and life we should embrace rather than avoid.
What Does It Look Like To You?
Choosing one side may feel good but it will work against you in the long term, Tim points out. Rather than picking one side, he advises, think about what living on both sides looks like for you. Many times an ideal, such as fairness, means different things to different people. The goal is not to compromise your values, but to embrace both sides fully. Kevin comments that oftentimes organizations would choose words to portray their values without fully defining what those words mean to their business. Tim adds that if you don’t fully understand the underlying tensions you have to manage to live out those values, then they are just words. Dig into those underlying tensions and learn how to leverage them.
Key Tensions on the Road Less Traveled
Kevin and Tim discuss a few key tensions that difference-makers need to leverage on their journey to greatness. These include:
- Fun and seriousness;
- Purpose and profit;
- Caring about the right people’s opinions and not caring what everyone else thinks;
- Idealism and realism.
Tim says that once we realize that idealism and realism go together, we will be able to hold on to our vision while accepting the reality of what needs to be done now.
A Challenge For Listeners
Tim’s challenge to listeners is to think about what tensions they are going to manage in the coming year. Are you willing to embrace them? What would it look like to get the value of both sides? Kevin has his own questions for listeners:
- Are there any issues that you previously saw as problems to solve that you now realize are actually tensions to manage?
- What are the key tensions you face as a difference-maker?
- What do you plan to do with what you’ve learned today? What’s your next step and how can we help?
Book and other resources: ThePowerOfHealthyTension.com
Call or text Kevin: 678-744-5111
Schedule a call: KevinDMonroe.com/2020