THE RUMINATION PARADOX

Rumination is a mode of responding to distress that involves repetitively and passively focusing on symptoms of distress and on the possible causes and consequences of these symptoms. Rumination does not lead to active problem solving to change circumstances surrounding these symptoms. Instead, people who are ruminating remain fixated on the problems and on their feelings about them without taking action.

Having written for a while now, I’ve gotten a couple inquires about what exactly is a Rumination Paradox. Well, I like the concept of rumination as discussed by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema in Rethinking Rumination (2008). “Rumination is a mode of responding to distress that involves repetitively and passively focusing on symptoms of distress and on the possible causes and consequences of these symptoms. Rumination does not lead to active problem solving to change circumstances surrounding these symptoms. Instead, people who are ruminating remain fixated on the problems and on their feelings about them without taking action.”

And therein lies the paradox – a seemingly absurd, self-contradictory proposition that, once examined, may well be true. Like a lot of entrepreneurs I’ve met, I’m a problem solver, perpetually moving forward in fear of reliving the past, upon which, however sadly, I ruminate.

Call it a right brain – left brain issue. Call it an offensive defense mechanism. Or how about we call it the “self-awareness denial syndrome”? SAD syndrome. Now that brings a smile to my face! Not to be confused with SAD, seasonal affective disorder, which is simply depressing.

But while time in the rumination paradox is certainly self-aware, is it really denial? Is it conscious denial where I’m suppressing or unconscious denial where I’m repressing? Surely a little of both. Do I even know what I’m repressing? But, holy cow, if you only knew how much I’m suppressing.

Does it really matter, though, when there are companies to build, economies to develop, and policies to politicize? Let’s just stick with SAD syndrome for the sake of moving forward because Anosognosia gets way, way too complicated.

Oops. Was that the rumination paradox at work? Real life evidence of the SAD syndrome?

Not to be side tracked, the actual reason behind this blog is that I really love a paradox or a conundrum or just something that seems a little too weird to go together, but really makes sense. I’m not talking chocolate covered potato chips or the Tao of Pretty Woman (the movie, not the species, about which a future post will certainly focus). No, I’m talking about whether or not it be illegal to text in a self-driving car. How will one properly cite quotes in a paper that have been generated through artificial intelligence? How do politicians square the American Dream of a middle class lifestyle with contemporary views of American Exceptionalism? America excels at being average? Americans are exceptionally average? Being middle class is exceptional…on average?

All paradoxes ripe for rumination, but somehow entrepreneurs and the ship they captain can find the answers.

Over the coming weeks, months, maybe years or even decades, I intend to examine more of the paradoxes and strange quirks of startup life that are ripe for rumination. As with all good bouts of rumination, I’m not sure where answers will be found. But, having diagnosed and coined the paradoxical SAD syndrome, I’m confident entrepreneurs will eventually discover, package, and sell great solutions.

Let me know some paradoxes in the world of entrepreneurship, economic development, and public policy upon which you ruminate.

*************************************************************************

For over 20 years, Paul has flown under the radar while pursuing a series of entrepreneurial initiatives in the United States and across five continents. In the process, Paul bagged a Career Big 5 in employment – working with startups, NGOs, the federal government, higher ed and investors. Through this combination of experiences, and his singular focus on early-stage entrepreneurs, Paul has developed an unusually broad and insightful perspective on what it takes to launch and build companies. With this new blog, The Rumination Paradox, Paul shares some of his insights on entrepreneurship and hopefully inspires some creative thinking among others. Share your thoughts with Paul at pjc@sustainablestartups.org.

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll To Top