The Blessed AND

Built to Last is based on the research findings of business consultant/commentator Jim Collins as he asked the question, “Why are some companies able to achieve and sustain success through multiple generations of leaders, across decades, and even centuries?” Among his answers/findings? Adaptive and sustainable corporations embrace and exercise “the Genius of the And.”

A few summarizing excerpts best serve the discussion here:

“[Too many] get caught up in what we call ‘The Tyranny of the Or,’ the belief that you cannot live with two seemingly contradictory ideas at the same time, that you can have change or stability, you can be conservative or bold, you can have low costs or high quality — but never both. Visionary companies all operate in what we call ‘The Genius of the And,’ the ferocious insistence that they can and must have both at once.”

“The Tyranny of the OR pushes people to believe that things must be either A OR B, but not both. Instead of being oppressed by the Tyranny of OR, highly visionary companies liberate them-selves with the Genius of the AND the ability embrace both extremes of a number of dimensions at the same time. Instead of choosing between A B, they figure out a way to have both A AND B.”

“A visionary company doesn’t seek to balance between short-term and long-term. It seeks to do very well in the short term and very well in the long term… it doesn’t simply balance between a tightly held core ideology and stimulating vigorous change and movement; it does both to an extreme…  Rare?  Yes. Difficult?  Absolutely.  But as F. Scott Fitzgerald pointed out, ‘The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.’  This is exactly what the visionary companies are able to do.”

Given my own convictions that genius is as much gift of God as not and tyranny is entirely a product of human self-centeredness, I choose to think of them as the “blessed AND” and the “cursed OR.” However we label things, though, I am strongly convinced of the crucial place of AND in navigating/maintaining the paradoxes I see as true to life and Faith–in authentically dancing/living with God, self, neighbor, world:

  • Faith AND Works
  • Head AND Heart
  • Spirit AND Structure
  • Personal Holiness AND Social Holiness
  • Traditional AND Contemporary
  • Ancient AND Future
  • Conservative AND Liberal
  • Unity AND Diversity
  • Reforming AND Reconciling
  • Individual AND Community
  • Taking Care of [Church Family] Members AND Serving the Broken Beyond Our Walls

As You, the Alpha AND Omega,
Did embrace and contain Human AND Divine
And even now bridge Heaven AND Earth:
Be to us now, not just the Supreme Paradox
Which informs, yes challenges, all lesser ORs;
But, be, as well, the Reconciler
Who inspires the Blessed AND—
uniting all things in Thee.

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2 Responses to The Blessed AND

  1. Lois says:

    I love the way you showed how God exemplifies the AND. I have always thought in terms of black and white, but I am a mix of opposites and still try to follow God. Do you mind if I share some of your thoughts with my friends?

    • Jim Reiter says:

      Am flattered/honored, Lois, that you’d want to share with your friends!!!

      I’ll agree with you: all this is easier said than done! How to honor the black AND the white… and not get lost in the grey. And, in some cases, I wonder when is grey the way?!?!? And then there are those opposites in me! I’m not sure I can defend each and every one of them as being of God.

      Still, I believe He navigates it all and will help me do the same!

      Blessings on You and Yours!

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