The Best of Both Worlds

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time." – F. Scott Fitzgerald

We live in an environment today where we are supposed to make a choice between two options. Democrat or Republican. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. PC or Mac. We limit are choices to either/or. However, not everything is binary.

With many things in life, the choice is not either/or but both/and.

Two things can be true at once. One choice does not have to be wrong for the other choice to be right. 

Here are some everyday examples of both/and.


Having specific, written down long term goals is one of the keys to a successful and prosperous life. On the other hand, you should also strive to ‘make each day a masterpiece.’ If you live every day well, your days will add up to a successful life.

It’s not one or the other. It’s both/and.


Going into each day with a well-thought-out game plan will increase your probability of effectiveness and success. But you need be flexible for urgent and unforeseen opportunities. You need to maintain both structure and flexibility.


In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about great leaders having a unique combination of personal humility and professional resolve. Once again, these qualities are not mutually exclusive. Make it a goal to enter each day with humility, knowing that you are an imperfect, ‘work in progress.’ But also carry a healthy dose of confidence knowing what your strengths are and leveraging them for the good of others.


Successful people possess a combination of warmth and strength. They have great relational skills and can easily connect with others. At the same time, they are also candid and straightforward in their speech.

Finally, as a Christian, there are also two approaches to faith. One extreme is ‘let go and let God.’ Surrender everything and let God take over. The other extreme is practicing self-discipline and diligence. Again, both are true.

I think the popular phrase

“Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you,”

is another great example of both/and.

So don’t get caught up into forced, false choices. Remember, two things can be true at once. Limiting your choices is often 'stinking thinking'.