Every now and then serendipity creates a wonderful learning experience.  By chance I chose to read Tony Schwartz’s blog piece today and learned a little more about myself.

As I’ve blogged recently, the whole communication dynamic has been challenging for me in the past few weeks. What I thought was my team and me doing a good job was viewed differently by some of our stakeholders who shared a less positive perspective.

So, in reflecting on my role in the communication dynamic I tried to be honest in what I was responsible for and what others were responsible for.  Initially, my thoughts were that I did my part and they didn’t do theirs.  Then, I read the post below from Tony at hbr.org.

The insight was that my drive to move a project forward turned at times into aggressiveness and disregard for how others were perceiving the process. I would explain away other’s perspectives as a result of not being active participants in the conversation.

Six Ingredients of a Good Life by Tony Schwartz

“The true measure of greatness is our capacity to navigate between our opposites with agility and grace — to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never to stop trying to get better.”

Over the past week, I’ve thought about this more deeply. What’s dawned on me is just how much a good life requires embracing paradox.

Constantly seek to learn and grow, but accept yourself exactly as you are.

Learning and growing require a willingness to look honestly and unsparingly at our shortcomings. Start with your own greatest strength. When you overuse it, it’s almost surely a window into your own greatest weakness.

In my case, the strength is drive and passion. Overused, it turns into aggressiveness. Some months ago, I had an encounter with a client in which I felt treated unfairly and dishonestly. I reacted with righteousness, and it probably cost us the client.

There wasn’t much value in beating myself up about what happened, or in holding on to a sense of outrage. The client acted badly, but more important, so did I. By accepting responsibility, but also forgiving myself — recognizing that overreaching is an undeniable part of me, but not all of me — I had an opportunity to grow and learn.

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