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We’ve just got back from a magical holiday in Bali. And on Saturday as I lay in the sun watching the kites flying high in Bali’s big blue sky, I started thinking …

But first, let me tell you about the kites. The Balinese are known for their kite-making and flying, and even hold a kite flying festival. These kites are magnificent – think elaborate ships, colourful butterflies and exotic birds up to 30 square metres in size. And they fly really high – to the point where they are potentially dangerous to air traffic.

Anyhow, as I was watching these kites, it struck me that they are a perfect metaphor for Bali – highly spiritual, yet fun and playful too. For those of you who have never been to Bali (and forgive me if you know it well), it is an extraordinary place. The Balinese practice Hinduism and you literally cannot walk down the road without seeing a shrine, or stepping over an offering or smelling incense. There are even offerings placed on the beach. Restaurant and villa staff stop what they are doing at specific times of the day to make offerings. Yet – as you walk down the tiny higgledy-piggledy roads, stepping over offerings and pointing out temples and shrines, people spill out of bars and restaurants onto the pavements, the music pumps and the place literally rocks. It’s both a spiritual and a party place – and for those of you who know me well, you know that’s just my kinda place to be.

So Bali and the metaphor of a kite, are for me, a beautiful example of ‘both-and’ thinking and it is a thinking pattern that can open up your world.

How so ?

Well, rather than limit thinking to ‘either this or that’, thinking along a continuum opens up the possibility of ‘both this and that’. By polarising the world into good: bad / right: wrong, all the choices in the middle disappear – and so do all the options.  This way of thinking often results in people believing their own stuff and closing their minds to learning new ways of being, new theories or listening to another way.

It closes down the opportunity for learning and development. It shuts off your growth. Continuing my example of Bali – tourists could be attracted by either the spirituality, or the fun. By employing continuum thinking, the island manages to attract visitors from both groups, thereby exponentially increasing tourism, revenue, job opportunities and the potential for economic growth.

Now, lets apply that to you – imagine you would like to double, maybe triple your opportunities. Imagine being highly successful and having ample down time, or giving a completely focussed presentation whilst being relaxed. Imagine a world of leaders who are respected and loved. Managers who are technical specialists and who trust enough to delegate. Small business owners who play safe yet believe in themselves enough to take calculated risks. Wouldn’t you love to be a student studying, playing sport, partying and travelling. Why not ? Why not have more ? Why not be more ?

Of course, continuum thinking is not appropriate thinking for life or death decision making, or in situations when a quick response is necessary, but if you are passionate about becoming more, this may be something you’d like to work on.

How do you know if you need to stretch yourself a bit in this area ? Well, have you ever caught yourself thinking “but that’s not the way it is done”, or “the rules say” or “you can’t have it all”. If so, maybe you’d like to consider that there is always another option. Life is not black and white, there are beautiful colours waiting to be explored. Give yourself permission to look for them and experience the most life has to offer.

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