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Top 7 Pairs of “C” Words for Successful Individuals

By Kevin Eikenberry

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A casual comment by a presenter at a conference we were facilitating led us to quickly build these word pairs for you to consider. Think about each pair, the tension between them, the relative merits of each, and which you value more (and apply) in different situations. We believe you will find this exercise as enlightening as we did.

  1. Complacency vs. Change. Improvement requires change. When we are complacent, feeling that our performance is “good enough,” we seldom make the choice to change. It is valuable to consider our motivations related to our relative willingness to change.

  2. Combat vs. Conflict. Conflict, when understood for what it is and valued for its merits, can help you find better solutions to problems. Conflict comes from divergent opinions and ideas. Unfortunately, conflict often becomes combative. Think about how you can value and manage conflict, without the combative component.

  3. Constrained vs. Creative. When working on a project, how often are you focused on the constraints? When you are, how creative are your outcomes? While acknowledging any constraints in the system, they must be questioned, and creativity must be encouraged, perhaps in spite of those constraints.

  4. Climb vs. Coast. We might be able to coast for a bit, but take it as a rest and rejuvenation step on the path of continuous improvement and growth. When we have goals to reach, we have to keep climbing towards them!

  5. Close-minded vs. Curious. Is your style to laser-focus on the task at hand? This is a great ability, allowing people to shut out distractions around them and accomplish what they need. When this happens, they often overlook the interesting and intriguing areas of the task. How successfully do you approach a task, particularly one you have done many times, with curiosity?

  6. Contained vs. Comical. The image we project can set the mood on a situation and influence the outcome. Work situations are often viewed as serious, where we must contain many parts of ourselves. Comedy serves to highlight and exaggerate some aspect of a situation that others find to be true. Try to make your most serious situation comical. You might be amazed at the outcome, and if nothing else, you may get a laugh out of it.

  7. Clarify vs. Convince. When working with another person, how often do you work to clarify your position or thoughts and how often do you work to convince the other person you are right? Partnerships require two-way streets, with both having an opportunity to decide the merits of a position. Whether or not we want to convince the other person, we always need to work to clarify.

Kevin Eikenberry and Dr. Jeff Evans. Kevin is Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. Kevin publishes Unleash Your Potential, a free weekly ezine designed to provide ideas, tools, techniques and inspiration to enhance your professional skills. Go to to learn more and subscribe. Dr. Jeff Evans leads the Gaian Group , a consulting organization that helps organizations successfully navigate large-scale change.


Article Submitted On: January 27, 2005