Ditching dichotomous thinking: blending old & new

Dichotomous thinking gets us into trouble.

  • old / new
  • love / hate
  • either / or
  • yes / no
  • black / white
  • right / wrong

Forcing our brain to think along these dichotomous lines causes us to loose opportunities, get boxed into a corner and what’s more makes creativity and innovation tank.

How about viewing the world in shades of gray?  Saying ‘yes and…’ rather than ‘no but’. Rather than looking for rigid differences and seeing things as opposed or unrelated look for unique ways to creatively combining things.

I saw this kind of thinking in action when visiting my colleague and friend Gerd Junne in Amsterdam.  (While he’s currently a professor I think he’s been a tour guide in another life as my head kept swiveling from side to side as he pointed out yet another interesting things to look at and relayed an equally interesting story to go with it.)

Check out the buildings pictured below.  I was captivated by this non-dichotomous thinking.  Rather than choosing between old or new the urban planners chose both.  Note the older building enveloped by the new.

Creative, flexible and non-dichotomous.

The online self-assessment Life Lenses is the same.  While the pairs of lenses are on a continuum you’re encouraged to find your comfort spot on that continuum and then flex – move up and down, in and around, trying on new perspectives, new shades of thinking.

As the old year blends into the new year let’s toast to illuminating dichotomous thinking.  Let’s take the best of last year and blend with the good of the new year.  It’s not ‘my way or the highway’ but rather a joyfully diverse map of intersecting paths.


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