Are You A Modern Day Alchemist?
“Juxtaposition” is one of my favorite words. It suggests maximum possibility through the attraction of opposites—what happens when two separate elements join together to create magic and power. Laurel and Hardy. Laverne and Shirley. Harold and Maude. Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Call it Modern Day Alchemy—turning lead into gold, or better yet, transforming opposing ideas into order, meaning, and beauty.
Before you start looking around for a partner to compliment your magic, what if you alone could embody two contrasting qualities with the perfect dose of each? What if you could create your own alchemy through the recognition of your internal contradictions? No need for codependence. All the elements are embodied within you—confidence and doubt, gravitas and levity, introvert and extrovert, modern and timeless—each one making the other more powerful.
As a CEO in my mid-thirties, I hired Jack Kenny, fifteen years my senior, as my in-house mentor and COO. My boutique hotel company had grown to 500 employees, and I knew I needed some wisdom by my side. Jack embodied this perfect alchemy of gravitas and levity. When I needed to make a difficult decision, he was well-known for asking the weighty question, “What are you pretending not to know?” At the same time, he was the funniest person in the room, and often when we needed it the most. He reminded us of our humanity through his humor and humility.
The more we can blend the contrasting parts of who we are, the more we can offer the world our whole self. As a Modern Elder, we can be the perfect alchemy of curiosity and wonder. Curiosity opens up possibility while wisdom distills what’s essential. And when you combine the two, you will have become a Modern Day Alchemist—transforming yourself into the person you were meant to become.
How do you use curiosity and wisdom to become your own Modern Day Alchemist?