This I Believe

Elliot - Solon, North Dakota
Entered on July 17, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: freedom, science, work

I believe that the secret to a successful life is complementarity. I see this in the elegance of our DNA, where every Adenine has its Thymine and every Guanine has its Cytosine. The brilliance of using 4 nucleotides to code for the complexity of life is startling in its simplicity. But that is only the beginning. From here we can find examples from every aspect of life where success is found in matching qualities or entities together. The penis fits the vagina, the sperm meets the egg and through a miraculous process, a human being is made.

The child is nourished with a balanced diet while struggling between dependence and independence. Erikson describes the tensions at every stage that propel the child to adulthood as he or she masters the challenge of that phase. Then adulthood comes with a host of luscious complementarities. Freud said the secret to a happy life was love and work. Others talk of balancing work and play. One without the other is too much and incomplete all at the same time.

Every successful company combines the talents and temperaments of 2 or more individuals. A wise businessman once told his partner, “If you and I always agreed, one of us would be unnecessary”. For a company or a marriage to thrive, the partners must complement one another. For every nice CEO you see the hatchet number two. You see this all the time in happy couples you know. One is loud, the other quiet. One is imaginative, the other is practical. Each alone would languish, but together they prosper.

We see this principle in play within our own country. We need both freedom and discipline, faith and reason. There are the checks and balances of the three branches of government, without which peoples can fall into tyranny or anarchy. Everywhere you look there are more examples of the need for complementarity. I try to find a balance in my own life and look for people who will complement my skills and talents

When you are struggling, look for the imbalance and this will often show you the way to success. Too much of any one thing is not productive. Too much power can make you arrogant and even too much water can be toxic. The key to life is in finding the complementarity that fits you the best. It is not hard to find, it is right in front of us.