Home Concepts Managing Stress & Challenges The Shattered Tin Man Midst the Shock and Awe in Mid-21st Century Societies I: Shattering and Shock

The Shattered Tin Man Midst the Shock and Awe in Mid-21st Century Societies I: Shattering and Shock

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The polarity between clear and open mindedness can be effectively managed with the use of tools offered by Kahneman and his colleagues (Kahneman, 2011; Kahneman, Sibony and Sunstein, 2021).Our Scarecrow could have benefited from embracing both a clear-minded and open-minded perspective in his teaching. While he wouldn’t have to abandon his unique perspectives on society, he could have offered alternative perspectives and invited his students to view all of these perspective in a critical, thoughtful manner. He could have been teaching his students how to slow-think rather than convincing them of his own point of view.


Ambiguity concerns the ‘haziness’ in which cause-and-effect are assessed. Causes are hard to attribute. Relativity seems to trump established rules. Conditions of ambiguity weigh heavily on our ability to hold contradictory data and still function and make choices. We are drawn to the Instagrammers, who seek to find clarity by connecting constantly with other people: “maybe together we can remove the haze.” The other way to avoid the haze is to stay indoors—that is stay clear of any news and any challenging information from the “outside world.” We join many other Americans as passive-ists. To quote the nasty Wizard in The Wiz (a remake of the Wizard of Oz): “I don’t want no bad news!”

The Tin Man would embrace a quite different strategy if he were to succeed in 21st Century reality. He would stay out in the world, learning about philanthropy or some other sector of society and not returning his TV channel. Similarly, his companion, the Cowardly Lion, could attend a civic leadership program (perhaps led by Ronald Heifetz) that offered “no easy answers.” (Heifetz, 1998). An overall willingness on the part of the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion to live with a “hazy” reality could be accompanied by a Left Column perspective on Tolerating this Haziness. The primary concern would center on being patient and willing to remain in “limbo” until such time as the haze clears and actions can be taken.

The Right Column perspective stands in opposition. This perspective would focus on Engaging the haziness. The Scarecrow could learn how to work with philanthropic organizations while the Cowardly Lion could recenter his own political campaign on appropriate and well-planned change. The primary concern in filled the middle region and bringing the left and right column together is establishing a viable “truth” and “reality” upon which one can base and guide actions. Interactions with other people can help both the Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion find a valid truth.

Unlike the Instagrammers, our two Oz companions turn to other people for collective clarification not collective confirmation.  As Ken and Mary Gergen (2004) proclaimed, “truth is only found within community.” More specifically, they would suggest that truth is found in trusting relationships: “constructivism favors a replacement of the individual as the source of meaning with the relationship.” Even more to the point, truth is found in dialogue – and disagreement. There is an insistence that we respect and learn from other people: “one is invited into a posture of curiosity and respect for others.”

Appropriate coaching and consulting services could be requested by the Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion to address the ambiguity-based polarity. Those providing these services can introduce multiple templates for assessing the nature of any challenging issue. One of these templates concerns the identification and analysis of both the immediate issue (the figure) and the context within which this issue is situated (the ground). A second template concerns the distance from which a specific issue is being addressed. It should be examined close up (as an intimate portrait) (proximal perspective) and at a distance (as a broad landscape) (distal perspective).

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