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  • Thomson Dawson

Wrestling with opposing forces.


Dynamic tension is the experience of wrestling with opposing forces. These forces are centered in wanting to experience opposing desires all in the same moment. To move forward, one must prevail over the other.

As humans, we all possess certain characteristics, motivations and themes in our life that seem at odds with each other. If you find yourself stuck or moving sideways, take a deep hard look at the dynamic tensions you are experiencing in your life.


Here are some examples:

• creative freedom vs. financial security

• working independently vs. being a member of a team

• individual control vs. partnership

• automony vs. support and security

• family vs. career

• living where you want vs. living where you work


You get the idea. Dynamic tension is the messy middle where you are not fully committed. It’s the state of being where you are fighting with yourself because you desire to experience multiple realities at the same time. You find yourself at an impasse over which pole to favor. It’s madness, but it’s also a zone of empowerment and creativity if you choose to perceive it that way.


When you’re fighting the opposing forces of your desire, the tension you experience provides a lot of power and energy to trust yourself more deeply, and choosing more authentically. If you study my list of dynamic tensions, you’ll see the pattern of risk and freedom vs. fear and doubt. The charge that runs through each pole is an important source of life energy. You’ll need all the energy you can muster to move toward your bigger better future, and break the gravity of your desire for comfort, stability and security.


When you feel the “tension” that’s your cue you need to be moving forward creating something awesome and remarkable.


If you’re starting a business, and you highly desire and value individual control, it’s probably going to be difficult for you to acknowledge your “other” desire for partnership and collaboration.  Individual control is fear based, while collaboration supports freedom.


The ideal of the rugged individualist entrepreneur is an old paradigm. In this new century where ideas and innovation rule, collaboration is essential. To create a business where all your time is spent creating awesome stuff requires you have partners and collaborators. The tension demands reconciliation.


Living at the border.

In my view, the universe is for growth and expansion. Dynamic tension is natural and necessary for growth. If you’re not experiencing dynamic tension in your life that means your dead. Move past the known and grow into the unknown. Then, like the instructions on a bottle of shampoo–rinse and repeat.


Essentially growth lives on the border where uncertainty and ambiguity are always present. As you experience more growth, your confidence and trust in the process strengthens and you discover living on the edge is where opportunity is found. Eventually, you’ll realize that the border is where you experience being more “alive”.


Real choices, unlike convenient options, are always in tension.

Every dynamic tension will lead to moment of choice– grow or stay at an impasse. The tension evaporates when a choice that involves growth is made. On the other hand, if you resign yourself to a choice of staying put, you’ll continue to experience ever-greater tension since you’ve decided to buck the direction everything is headed.


The choice to grow is the authentic choice.  Authentic choices are not random or arbitrary. They come from our deepest life interests, our motivations, and the themes and events we have experienced thus far. Dynamic tension leads to an opportunity for more authentic choices. You'll recognize the authentic choice because you will sense being pulled rather than pushed. These choices are not convenient compromises. They come from the depths of the heart and require a price be paid.


In the end, dynamic tension fuels the leap into defining a more meaningful path forward out of the impasse and into a more rewarding and fulfilling life.


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