Be Confident, Question Everything: Marc Lesser Talks the Power of Paradox
In his last book, Less, SIYLI co-founder, former CEO and Emeritus Board Member Marc Lesser discussed how a focused mind can make you a more effective worker. In his new book, Know Yourself, Forget Yourself, he examines how five paradoxes — Know Yourself, Forget Yourself; Be Confident, Question Everything; Fight for Change, Accept What Is; Embrace Emotion, Embody Equanimity and Benefit Others, Benefit Yourself — can help you achieve clarity in life and at work.
“In some way I think when we pay attention to our lives, if we pay attention to what it means to be a human being, everything about it is paradoxical. How did we get here? What does it mean to be born into this world and to have consciousness? To discover our family and our life and our body, that’s all to me pretty mysterious stuff,” explains Marc.
Lesser believes that by embracing life’s mysteries, we actually allow ourselves to open up and accept new and different worldviews.
“Basically, I think, people often get hung up on feeling like we need to either be very confident or very questioning, or we need to be very accepting or fighting for change,” says Marc. “It starts with just seeing the paradoxical nature of everything in our lives, so it’s a way of bringing more awareness and understanding to our lives. It’s also a way to practice and expand our own worldview, perception of ourselves, who we are and what we’re doing.”
Being open to paradox also helped Marc become successful in the business world without compromising his values. When Marc was fired from the company he founded — Brush Dance Publications — after 15 years, he embraced the setback as a learning experience. He realized his heart was no longer in the business and set out to find work he was passionate about.
“I learned so much from the process and it opened doors for me that allowed me to do what I’m doing now. Eight years later, I’m back in the seat of running another organization, getting another shot at leadership and growing a company here with SIYLI.”
Now his mission is to spread mindfulness to the world, offering corporations and offices tools for a better business and a better life.
“Most of my time is spent bringing mindfulness and emotional intelligence into organizations through SIYLI,” says Marc. The need for a fresh perspective in business is great. “I think the overarching complaint that I hear is too much to do and not enough time.”
So what is Marc’s key to happiness in the workplace?
“In some way the quickest answer is: Resilience, flexibility and seeing the good in others. I think there is a lot of unhappiness when we don’t see that people actually do have good intentions. I talk about this in the book: The goal is to become really familiar with our own story, our own worldview and to make it wider and more flexible.”
Though paradoxes can offer confusion when we focus on them, they can provide clarity when we learn to embrace the power of paradox. In essence, Marc believes that embracing contradiction allows us to become more accepting and more open to the world around us. This allows us to make a greater positive change in the world.
“We don’t get to choose our parents, we don’t get to choose a lot about who we are, but we get to choose a lot about how we direct our own lives.”
Think about the paradoxes in your life. What are they? How can you use them to become more open?