November 9, 2023

❏ Notes to Self 006 - Resistance, Polarities, and Blending

Most business journals talk about “overcoming” resistance as if it were an obstacle on the road to an undoubtedly better destination. Just push a little harder and you’ll get past it! Which completely ignores the intelligence contained within the resistance — additional perspectives, information, sensing, and protective mechanisms that might in fact be very beneficial to consider. If you pause for a minute and listen to the resistance you'll realize you have a blurry map of other possible roads, ones that aren’t blocked by a giant obstacle. While they may not lead to the exact destination you had in mind, they still take you in generally the right direction.

In my Gestalt training we talk a lot about polarities — seemingly opposing concepts that are interrelated and together form a whole. Things like control/freedom, stability/change, individual/group, thinking/feeling, etc. While many of us have learned to think of one end as good and the other as bad, both ends are important for healthy functioning systems. The interesting thing with polarities is that if you hang out at one end of a spectrum long enough, you eventually get interested in the other end. We saw this in session with a team that was really great at sharing and listening fully. As we appreciated their skill and capacity in this area, they eventually got to a point where they wondered about taking action.

And then you have the idea of blending, or joining with the energy of tension and moving along with it rather than opposing it. I've come across this concept several areas - body work, martial arts, and in the Realization Process, though I think Aikido has contributed the most to the leadership literature through the lens of resistance. Aikido is a martial art of harmony, of bringing together elements and intensifying them, driving the whole forward at high levels. The practitioner learns how to work with the energy of attack, joining with it and moving it so that the attack transforms and the attacked is neutralized. In leadership contexts this translates to the idea of joining with resistance, moving further into the energy of resistance instead of trying to overcome it (which, if you think about it, is really resisting the resistance and that tends to end in deadlock).