Leadership

How to Avoid the Pendulum

riding pendulum
riding pendulum

Are you a swinger? As I mentioned in my last post, we are often prompted to react in unsavory ways when adversity, fear, or disappointment hits. Yes, cynicism is often the result after so many disappointments and so much disillusionment.

But another human syndrome I've observed over the years is the pendulum swing.

When a certain course of action doesn't produce the desired result, something tells us we should look for the opposite as the solution.

  • Your weight problem has you so frustrated that you decide starving yourself is the only solution.
  • Fleeing your puritanical upbringing, you dive headlong into satisfying your fleshly desires.
  • After years of feeling overlooked or invisible, you go to great lengths to attract attention.
  • Your first wife was too controlling, so you marry someone the complete opposite.
  • Your rat race life led you to sell everything and move as far away from civilization as possible. (OK, maybe that one's not as common.)
  • And on a collective level: we get fed up with seemingly failed policies so we elect the polar opposite in the next Congress or Oval Office.

Is there a middle ground? Is the middle only "mushy", as extremists insist? Is there no place for making slight corrections rather than knee-jerk reactions?

The word equilibrium literally means "equal or level scale or balance." Funny that the symbol for justice, a balance, is so often overlooked in our lives that are often nothing more than a series of reactionary decisions. When you want to even the scale, you add weight to one side in small increments, not overwhelming weights. If you are in leadership, this is all the more vital.

Take strength training as a metaphor. If you want to build muscle, you add weight to your routine only in small increments. Everyone knows it would be foolish to add a ton of weight all at once. Yet that is often how we make decisions when we feel a change is called for.

Are there slight adjustments you could make that would lead to a healthier life for you as a person or for your organization?

The ship that makes slight corrections in its course is the one that remains upright.