Book Review

Paradoxical Thinking: How to Profit from Your Contradictions

Reviewed by Rene Townsend,
Professor, Educational Leadership,
California State University, San Marcos, Calif.


Problem-solving steps rarely take into account the ways the person contributes to the problem or interferes with a solution.

In Paradoxical Thinking, Jerry Fletcher and Kelle Olwyler present a systematic approach to help people look at their strengths and weaknesses as contradictions that can be used to achieve the positive outcomes they desire. The authors describe five steps to paradoxical thinking, then demonstrate each step by using two hypothetical cases.

The five steps include: finding your core personal paradox; changing pre-conceived notions about your traits; defining your problem situation and setting your goal; using "Fletcher's Pendulum" to rate yourself; and choosing steps to improve your self-ratings. The authors provide six examples that apply their ideas to professional and personal situations.

The approach is interesting and stimulating. It offers new insights into problem solving and has potential for a breakthrough in how we think. Working through the steps alone is difficult. It would be easier--and a lot more fun--to work through them in a group and with a trained facilitator.

(Paradoxical Thinking: How to Profit from Your Contradictions, by Jerry Fletcher and Kelle Olwyler, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, Calif., 1997, 200 pp.)