Peter Koestenbaum on Dilemmas

Peter Koestenbaum

Peter Koestenbaum

The following is excerpted from an email I received from Peter Koestenbaum – a leadership philosopher and prolific writer – it’s related to our Dilemmas thread…

Authentic leaders have absorbed the fundamental fact of existence — that you can’t get around life’s inherent contradictions. The leadership mind is spacious. It has ample room for the ambiguities of the world, for conflicting feelings, and for contradictory ideas.

I believe that the central leadership attribute is the ability to manage polarity. In every aspect of life, polarities are inevitable: We want to live, yet we must die. How can I devote myself fully to both family and career? Am I a boss or a friend? A lover or a judge? How do I reconcile my own needs with those of my team? Those paradoxes are simply part of life. … Polarities are in the nature of things. How we act, how we respond to those polarities — that is where we separate greatness from mediocrity. …

Managing polarities teaches us that there are no solutions — there are only changes of attitude. When you grapple with polarities in your life, you lose your arrogant, self-indulgent illusions, and you realize that the joke is on you. To get that message makes you a more credible human being — instantly.

bob devlin
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