Saturday, January 16th, 2010 - 8:32am
I am a living contradiction.
The living contradiction is a concept I first encountered in my days as a teacher. Through my professor and friend Tom Russell I learned of Jack Whitehead, who was very interested in action research, reflective practice and living educational theory.
Jack talks about experiencing oneself as a living contradiction — when we experience our actions being at odds with our beliefs and values — as the impetus to improve. When we experience that feeling, we are motivated to act. To change. To iterate.
This is different than hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the when we pretend to have certain beliefs and values, when we don’t really have them. With hypocrisy, we are lying.
A living contradiction, however, is about the truth. Finding a way to live true to what we believe — both personally and professionally.
Feeling the Pain
In the final two months of 2009, I did precisely the opposite of what I should have been doing. In October, I wrote two posts “What Gives?” and “Needs More Whitespace” — both of which explored the need to give things up, to slow down, to create space in our personal and professional lives in order to achieve a better balance between the personal and professional parts of our lives as part of long term “success” and happiness.
I wrote the words, but I couldn’t live the ideals. I slept less per night than I had for the last 2.5 years. I didn’t log my hours of sleep, but I know that more often than not, my alarm woke me only 3 or 4 hours after my head hit the pillow. Not healthy.
I believe, like Jack, that I can make a positive change after feeling and experiencing this dissonance. Feeling it so acutely is certainly more than enough to provoke me. I need to reflect, plan, act and evaluate. I am a living contradiction, and I’m okay with that, as long as I do something about it.
What are you doing — right now — that shows you are a living contradiction? What are you going to do to make a change to bring your actions in line with your ideals and beliefs?
We both need to change this now, while we’re still in the tone-setting, habit-building infancy of 2010.