All three, harmony, discord and confidence, are required for growth. The keys are knowing when each is essential and how best to utilize them.
Too many of us have an utopian view of harmony. In this view there’s love, peace and the joy of accord…of being completely in sync with others. The reality is quite different.
Yes, you may experience more love when in harmony. And, yes, you may feel more peaceful when surrounded by those who believe as you do. But what else would you feel if everyone believed precisely the same thing, if there was no discord?
Bored! That’s the word that first came to mind for me; quickly followed by words like stagnant. complacent, shriveling and dying. That’s an ugly picture, especially from someone that most of you would categorize as upbeat and positive.
Let’s put this into perspective. I’m not suggesting that harmony is an intrinsically harmful state. I have the good fortune to belong to a group of business people who share the same values, exhibit behaviors similar to mine and with whom consensus is readily attained, but that doesn’t mean that we are all always in agreement. We have differing opinions on many things…which is a good thing.
To illustrate the importance of this distinction, assume for a moment that everyone in the group thinks exactly the same about each and every issue. Where would ideas for improvement come from? How could we help each other grow personally and professionally when we have nothing new to offer?
Contrast that with the dynamic I described earlier in which this group shares values, behaviors and characteristics common to all, yet differs in both what the organization should achieve and which approach to use in pursuit of the consensus goal. Differing views on both direction and approaches automatically spur growth in knowledge and awareness for all our members.
This is why both harmony and discord are essential for growth, but discord must meet certain conditions.
For discord to be constructive it must be respectful. One of the reasons that consensus is so attainable in this group is that they respect one another’s opinion whether or not they agree with it.
Part and parcel of that respect is a lack of judgment. The members of this group do not view others’ perspectives from the vantage of right or wrong, good or bad, they’re just different. This lack of judgment enables them to avoid taking a position. Instead, they look for ways to deal with each others’ concerns. The result is easy consensus.
When discord is combined with the attributes of respect and non-judgment, it becomes an amazing launch pad for growth for all involved.
Now that we’ve seen the value, and effective use, of both harmony and discord, let’s examine the role of confidence.
Take a moment to envision someone you know who lacks confidence, preferably someone other than you. It’s hard to see things in ourselves.
Think about this person as you consider these questions:
- To what degree do they experience harmony? Do they feel in sync with society or adrift?
- How open are they to differing perspectives? Do they invite others’ perspectives? Or do they defend their position against differing positions?
- Do they typically use terms like good, bad, right, wrong? Or do they see things as simply being different?
- Do they tend to associate with only those who agree with them? Or do they invite discussion among those with competing ideas?
The answers to these questions will give you a sense for the level of confidence the person possesses. We are all confident in some circumstances and less so in others, but the most confident among us, the ones who enjoy life the most and seem unfazed by life’s challenges, are those with the highest levels of confidence.
Use this blog to assess your own attitudes and behaviors. Are they producing the results you desire or strengthening an us-versus-them mindset?
When you use harmony and discord appropriately, you:
- Produce greater results.
- Enjoy a greater sense of value and self-worth.
- Develop greater confidence.
- Become more open to others’ perspectives and, consequently, create consensus more readily…which further enhances your confidence.
- Become more respectful of others’ beliefs while remaining true to yours.
- Live more joyfully.
Not a bad return for investing the time to learn to use harmony and discord effectively.
For our kids
Our humanity creates a natural desire for harmony, which we mistakenly believe is the same as a lack of discord. As is so often the case, both are essential to joy and success.
Teach your kids that both harmony and discord are essential for a joyful, productive life. Help them become aware that they are already confident and that their confidence makes it easier for them to avoid the pitfalls of disrespect and judgment. Two things that make discord more challenging and harmony less attainable.
This is a gift that you kids will treasure for a lifetime. A gift that they’ll share with their kids as they recall how what you taught them made their lives easier and more enjoyable.
I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your wisdom in a comment.
If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs.
If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.
Dale, It’s interesting that you put those three words together in the same article. Great job of connecting the dots! It’s a different and refreshing perspective.
Is that a habit that we can develop? To learn to disagree without becoming disagreeable?
Harmony and discord are two sides of the same coin so there is an inherent link between the two. It’s through striking a balance between the two that we optimize the value of both. And, yes, we can develop the habit of thinking that way. That’s where confidence comes in.
Confidence enables us to listen to competing ideas without judgment, which in turn enables us to see validity in other perspectives. It’s in finding these areas of agreement that we craft solutions that take the best of all perspectives and put them to use. We can train ourselves to be more confident or, if we already possess sufficient confidence, train ourselves to stop judging competing ideas and instead look for areas of agreement upon which we can build.
Thanks for your continued encouragement and always insightful questions.