The Power Of “And” And The Tyranny Of “Or”

By: Eric Betts

You heard the question millions of times as a child growing up. Undoubtedly, you have asked this of your children and those who surround you in your family. The question is: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This is indeed an important question, but sometimes the way it is asked, the assumption is that you need to pick one or another.

Randal D. Pinkett is a renowned entrepreneur, who is the CEO of BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar consulting firm specializing in information technology and public policy. Randal A. Robinson is a respected professional in the world of commercial real estate, and the Vice president of NJ Community Capital. He has extensive experience in finance, development, and strategic planning. Together, they have authored books on the subject of leadership strategies. In their book, Black Faces in High Places, they refer to a concept called the power of ‘and,’ which is helpful for professionals, communicators, and entrepreneurs to consider.

In their influential philosophy, Randal D. Pinkett and Randall A. Robinson pontificate about the power of ‘and’, an inspiring ideal that champions the belief in achieving excellence across multiple spheres of life. They argue against the common and disempowering notion they term as the tyranny of ‘or’ which forces individuals to choose between diverse areas of interest. They believe that one can indeed become a world-renowned scientist, a noted professor, and even the president of a university, without compromising on any role.

The power of ‘and’ is more feasible today, bolstered by an increasingly interconnected world where we can tap into a wealth of knowledge, resources, and opportunities. The Internet and digital technologies have dissolved traditional boundaries, enabling people to explore multiple areas of interest simultaneously and excel in them. Online educational platforms, for instance, offer a diverse range of courses, allowing one to be a scientist, a writer, and an entrepreneur at the same time. The power of ‘and’ fosters a holistic development, encouraging people to pursue their varied passions, thereby allowing them to live their purpose more authentically. It liberates one from the confines of single-stream specialization, cultivating versatile individuals who can adapt to the dynamics of a rapidly changing world.

The power of ‘and’ is not just about expanding one’s horizons; it is also about finding greater fulfillment in life. It may appear overwhelming or draining to juggle multiple interests or roles. However, in today’s technologically advanced and interconnected society, managing multiple interests has become less laborious and more fulfilling. Thanks to the digital revolution, resources, tools, and platforms are readily available to facilitate multitasking effectively. Digital calendars, project management tools, virtual collaboration platforms, and a plethora of other technologies streamline the management of diverse roles, making it less time-consuming and more efficient. Furthermore, research has found that engaging in diverse interests enhances cognitive flexibility, creativity, and emotional fulfillment, leading to a higher satisfaction and quality of life. Embracing the power of ‘and’ is thus not a drain on our resources and time, but rather a path to experiencing a more fulfilling, multi-dimensional life.

However, they caution against spreading one’s efforts too thin by attempting to excel in numerous areas simultaneously. They emphasize that excellence needs to be achieved in one specific area before expanding into others. To illustrate their point, they cite the example of Queen Latifah, who initially established herself as an excellent rapper. Using the knowledge and skills acquired in the music industry, she then successfully expanded her repertoire to include singing, modeling, acting, and producing. According to Pinkett and Robinson, once an individual comprehends what it takes to achieve excellence in one field, it becomes easier to apply the same principles to different areas.

In conclusion, it is entirely possible, and indeed fulfilling, to wear multiple hats and excel in them. The challenge lies in understanding the balance and not spreading oneself too thin. So, the question now is: How will you navigate your journey to become a master of many skills? Are you ready to embrace the power of ‘and’ and explore your multifaceted interests? This journey is not just about juggling roles but about learning, growing, and ultimately finding satisfaction in the diversity of life’s experiences.

By: Eric Betts

Udemy Instructor in Religion, Leadership and Ethics