7 Paradoxical Leadership Insights to Inspire Growth (with Video)

7 Paradoxical Leadership Insights to Inspire Growth (with Video)

How do you react when people on your team drive you nuts? Do you ever shake your head in amazement when you see the illogical (or downright stupid) things they sometimes do? (Personal confession: I sometimes do. Of course, I work hard to keep my cool, collected business face on…but, inside I’m thinking, “You’re nuts!”)

Here’s what I hear from senior leaders as they talk about the struggle of bridging the Generation Gap in the workplace. Pete* recently told me that his Next-Gen leader’s addiction to social media is driving him up the wall. Silvia* says she’s can’t stand the sense of entitlement and lack of accountability she sees with some of the emerging leaders in her business.

(Note: * Not their real names)

All of us can name a few (or a gazillion) examples of salespeople or team members who frustrate us with the annoying things they do…and yet, we are called to “love them anyway”!

Yes, love them anyway.

The Story of the Paradoxical Commandments

Dr. Kent Keith wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments” in 1968 when he was just 19 years old! Since then, they have been circling the globe for more than 50 years, pinned on walls and refrigerator doors, featured in speeches and articles, preached from pulpits, and shared extensively on the web.

How did I meet Kent, the author who wrote the call to love anyway – even when faced with irritating or annoying people who drive you nuts?

I’m attending my first ever National Speaker Association Conference in Orlando, Florida. As I’m taking the shuttle from the airport to the convention center, I strike up a conversation with a fellow attendee, Kent. Since he’s a speaker and author, I ask him about his core message, his forte.  When he says it is the Paradoxical Commandments, I’m intrigued. I ask him to tell me more.  As he recites the commandments to me, I immediately think, ‘Wow!  This applies to us as leaders in the world of sales too.”

I asked for permission to publish the Paradoxical Commandments and I created a plaque to give to my clients. I still have it on a shelf in my office.

Watch a short video on my surprising meeting with Dr. Kent Keith HERE.

As you read the lines below, I’m certain you will have a myriad of people and experience pop into your mind.

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down

by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Bridging the Generational Gap in the workplace is an opportunity for us to grow our leadership capacity. ~ Danita Bye Click To Tweet

I can’t predict with 100% accuracy what lies ahead in the new decade. What I do know, is that you will encounter people who do annoying and frustrating things. You will also feel the increased challenges of digital disruption. It is my hope that the Paradoxical Commandments will inspire you and the NextGen leader you are mentoring, to always find a loving way forward – even in the face of adversity.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this important message from the author.

During an interview, explaining the background of why and how the Paradoxical Commandments were written, Dr. Keith had this to say about love…

“You’ve gotta love people. You’ve gotta care. Love is the only motivation that’s strong enough to keep you with the people and with the process until the change occurs, because change takes time.  If you don’t love people and you’re in a leadership position, you should resign because you’re going to do more harm than good.”

So, when they drive you nuts, it’s an opportunity to “love them anyway” and implement the Invitation/Challenge Framework.  To learn more about the power of the Invitation / Challenge Matrix, read my two recent articles on this framework:

This is How Great Leaders Do It – Invitation and Challenge Framework

This is How Great Leaders Get Their Sales Growth Results

Leadership Lesson:  Be intentional in creating a safe and loving learning culture where two-way mentoring can benefit both you and your emerging leader as you learn from each other and challenge each other to grow.

Leadership Question: What will you do in the new decade to guide your next-gen leader to find the paradoxical wisdom in every situation?

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