Two Opposing

Two Opposing Ideas

Why you want order and your child wants chaos and what to do about it

By Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald, author

Consider F. Scott Fitzgerald’s belief that holding two opposing ideas in mind at the same time was a good test for a first-rate intelligence. Then consider that Sun Tsu, the author of the 2500-year-old book, The Art of War, states that battles are won by thinking; not by fighting. The conclusion we can draw is that a person with a first-rate intelligence has a much better chance of winning in battle than a person without one. By extension the person who can win in battle, where conditions are the worst imaginable, would have a better chance of winning in life where the conditions are bad but not nearly as bad as in war.

TeachingWinning in life can mean many things but what’s true in all situations is that we must first win for ourselves then win for others. If you are dead-broke and living under a bridge, you won’t be able to help many people. You have to first fix that situation. In an emergency airlines drop oxygen masks down and tell you to put your mask on first and then help the person next to you. If you can’t breathe, you can’t do much to help anyone else.

 Growth Mindset

When I was young, the common belief was that you were born with a certain amount of intelligence and that was all you got. But social scientists have now discovered that intelligence is like a muscle that can grow and get stronger. In other words, if we work at it, we can become more intelligent. Working at it means reading, writing, studying, and formulating ideas and speaking about them.

 Messiness May Be Better Than Neatness

Researchers at the University of Minnesota tested students on how well they came up with new ideas while working in an orderly or disorderly environment. What they found was that the students working in a messy environment came up with more interesting and creative ideas as judged by independent observers than their counterparts who worked in an orderly environment. Also, Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman, authors of A Perfect Mess demonstrate that moderately messy systems use resources more efficiently, yield better solutions, and are harder to break than neat ones.

Order, and all that goes with it, is what parents generally want. It makes life easier. Whereas chaos and all that goes with it, is what kids want. Watch kids play when there are no adults telling them what the rules are and how

they should play the game. They are at their happiest and freest; there is nothing they love better. Child development experts tell us that kids need this type of play to grow and become who they are meant to be.

 As a parent you want to know what your child is learning


I believe that if you’ve read this far, that you want to benefit from the lessons your child is getting. So, here’s a challenge for you: hold the two opposing ideas of order and chaos in your mind at the same time and then continue to function normally. I believe you will find that they can exist together in harmony. When you do this you will become a happier and more peaceful parent to your perfectly messy and chaos loving child.

Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of the Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor.

Please visit for information about our martial arts school in Santa Rosa, CA!

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