Clarity Beyond Duality
Image by Khusen Rustamov 

I feel we are at a crucial tipping point in our workplaces, our families, our society, and our planet. There is a tremendous need to find clarity: in our thinking, feelings, goals, actions, relationships, and results.

To solve problems, to be effective and successful, to lead a more satisfying life, we need to see problems clearly and foster agreement on what they are. We need to identify a shared vision that guides our efforts to fix things or achieve what we want. With this clarity, we have the potential to create warmer, more caring, more focused, and more effective workplaces and relationships, as well as to help heal social rifts and even repair our world.

Clarity Beyond Duality

To me, clarity begins with acknowledging and embodying that the world is not always what it seems. A tree, on one level, is just a tree, and it can be dissected and explained in biological terms. Yet when looked at from the perspective of a larger reality, a tree is a complete mystery. We don’t really know what it is or how it got here.

The same is true of everything, including us, we humans here on Earth. Birth, life, death, blood, hearts and hands, stone and sky, consciousness — all are mysteries, sacred mysteries to behold with wonder and awe.

Clarity means seeing the world from both perspectives: the ordinary and everyday, where a tree is just a tree, and the mysterious, which means acknowledging the unknown source of reality. Living with this awareness creates something of a paradox.

In ordinary reality, we face many dualities — of life and death, you and me, accepting what is and seeking change, being confident yet humble — and these dualities are important for living our ordinary lives. They can provide clarity in our everyday, relative world. But clarity in the larger reality means seeing beyond or outside of these dualistic, relative ways of perception. On this level, clarity dissolves distinctions.

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That said, in everyday terms, I think clarity is embodied by the following attributes. It is:

  • transparent
  • easily heard
  • easily visible
  • unbiased, or not fooled by greed, aversion, or ambiguity
  • not limited by dualities (or includes multiple perspectives)
  • free from entanglement

Compassionate Accountability

However, finding clarity and living with more clarity for ourselves is only the first step. We also need to work cooperatively to take effective action and solve the crucial problems facing us. What I’ve found is that the key to this is fostering more accountability as well as more compassion.

The concept and practice of compassionate accountability combines two essential attributes that are often mistakenly treated as separate and unrelated, if not incompatible. In fact, the opposite is true.

Accountability is about more than simply living up to our obligations and responsibilities. It means devoting ourselves to seeing clearly and aligning around facts. It means practicing skillful truth-telling. Rather than turning away from conflict, or practicing avoidance, it means working with conflict and destructive emotions to resolve them. Accountability means dedicating ourselves to connecting and aligning with one another for the benefit of all and working toward a shared vision of possibility, transformation, and success.

That said, accountability can easily foster harshness, judgment, blame, and division if it is not balanced by care and compassion. In working toward accountability, it’s more effective and more sustainable to approach one another with empathy, kindness, and a genuine desire for understanding.

That means listening openly, being flexible and forgiving, seeking to help and support others, and believing that how we solve problems is as important as what we do to solve them. Finding clarity within ourselves and working effectively and compassionately with others may be the most important and urgent work facing us right now.

Leveraging Trust and Understanding

Compassionate accountability integrates care, connection, and love with clarity, alignment, and purposeful action. It is a trainable method to leverage trust and understanding to achieve greater effectiveness and results, to reduce misunderstandings and conflicts, and to provide a way to more effectively achieve our goals, objectives, and visions.

Cultures that emphasize compassion without accountability tend to be low in energy and ineffective. Those that emphasize accountability without compassion can be cold and often are harsh. Environments that are low in both compassion and accountability are dull and chaotic. The sweet spot, the place for cultivating healthy, thriving, effective cultures, is an environment that excels in both compassion and accountability: the practice of compassionate accountability.

Excerpted from the book Finding Clarity.
Copyright ©2023 by Marc Lesser.
Reprinted with permission from New World Library.

Article Source:

Finding Clarity: How Compassionate Accountability Builds Vibrant Relationships, Thriving Workplaces, and Meaningful Lives
by Marc Lesser.

book cover: Finding Clarity by Marc Lesser.For Marc Lesser the key to healthy relationships and effective workplaces is compassionate accountability — a practical and trainable way to clarify and achieve shared visions of success. Numerous examples include:

• facing rather than avoiding conflict for the long-term benefit of all.
• working with and through difficult emotions with clarity, care, and connection.
• understanding the stories we live by and evaluating whether they’re serving us well.
• learning to listen and lead in ways that align with our mission and values.

Click here for more info and/or to order this paperback book. Also available as an Audiobook and as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of Marc LesserMarc Lesser, the author of Finding Clarity, is a CEO, executive coach, trainer, and Zen teacher with more than twenty-five years of experience as a leader supporting leaders to reach their full potential, as business executives and as full, thriving human beings. He is currently CEO of ZBA Associates, an executive coaching and development organization.

Visit him online at

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