The Art of Duality: Applying Fitzgerald’s Concept to the Corporate World
The Art of Duality: How Fitzgerald’s Concept of the Artist Applies to the Corporate World
“An artist is someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.” This eloquent notion by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the famed 20th-century American novelist, is not just a portrayal of the complexity of an artist’s mind but serves as a compelling allegory for modern-day professionals, particularly those in the corporate world.
The Creative Constraint of Duality
Lately I was thinking if the rapid advancement in the artificial-intelligence would ever catch up with the complex architecture of the human mind i.e. how do we perceive philosophy and try to implement it in our daily life. While reading about “managing your conflicting thoughts”, I stumbled upon this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald… so profound!
The quote essentially praises the artist’s ( and the artist is you) ability to juggle conflicting perspectives without succumbing to the chaos that such ideological friction could generate. On the surface, it may seem irrelevant to the nitty-gritty of board meetings, profit margins, and supply chain management. However, a closer look reveals that the corporate world is in dire need of individuals who can handle dichotomies—be they in strategies, ethics, or stakeholder interests—and yet perform efficiently.
The Balancing Act in Business Decision-making
Executives frequently face decisions that seem to pit one valuable outcome against another. Short-term gains often conflict with long-term sustainability. Shareholder interests may collide with social responsibility. Employee satisfaction might seem to be at odds with productivity metrics. A decision that benefits one department might negatively affect another.
Herein lies the art: the ability to embrace these dualities and find a path that gives due regard to both sides. This is not to say that one must always find a perfect middle ground. Rather, it is about understanding the full spectrum of perspectives and making an informed, judicious choice—even if it leans more towards one viewpoint.
Today’s corporate leaders must also grapple with ethical dualities. There’s a growing expectation that companies should not just focus on profit, but also on purpose. Balancing the imperative to generate shareholder returns with broader societal or environmental responsibilities requires a nuanced understanding of these potentially conflicting viewpoints.
Encouraging Duality in Corporate Culture
How can Fitzgerald’s concept be operationalized in a corporate setting?
Promoting diversity is not just a tick-box exercise; it’s a way to introduce a variety of perspectives. The friction that comes from diversity often sparks the most creative solutions.
Encourage a corporate culture where debate is valued over unilateral decision-making. When team members learn to constructively argue different viewpoints, they also learn the art of understanding duality.
A transparent decision-making process makes it easier to explore different viewpoints and helps in making more balanced decisions.
The complicated human brain is still out of reach for the LLM products such as ChatGPT, why I mention that ? Because (we) humans are enticed by such philosophical aspects of the life and trainings / workshops can introduce team members to the concept of handling duality. For example, courses in philosophy, ethics, or critical thinking can provide intellectual tools for reconciling opposing viewpoints.
In embracing Fitzgerald’s concept, the corporate world stands to gain leaders and decision-makers who are not just effective but also nuanced, empathetic, and forward-thinking. Just as the artist finds beauty in contradiction, the modern corporate individual can find success and ethical congruence in the complex interplay of opposing ideas, without losing functionality or purpose.
So the next time you find yourself caught between two conflicting viewpoints, be it at the board meeting or while making a strategic decision, remember that your ability to function amid these complexities doesn’t just make you a good manager or leader—it makes you an artist in your own right.
“Disclaimer: The content and views expressed in this article are entirely my own and crafted in a personal capacity. They do not in any way represent the opinions or policies of my employer, nor do they indicate any preference toward any Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).”