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Arianna Huffington Arianna Huffington political powerhouse. media mogul. author.

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Krishna Kaur Krishna Kaur yogi. philanthropist. dynamic teacher.

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Norman Lear Norman Lear producer. philanthropist. tv legend.

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Mastin Kipp Mastin Kipp Writer. Entrepreneur. Daily Lover.

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Desmond Tutu Desmond Tutu archbishop. author. peaceful leader.

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Zainab Salbi Zainab Salbi author. ceo. humanitarian.

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Sean Stephenson Sean Stephenson speaker. psychotherapist. life embracer.

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Kia Miller Kia Miller yogi. meditator. teacher.

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Simon Mainwaring Simon Mainwaring creator. writer. idea geek.

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Shannon Bindler Shannon Bindler Strategist. Writer. Life Coach.

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Mathieu Bitton Mathieu Bitton Designer. Art Director. Passionate Creator.

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Jorge Perez Jorge Perez Agent. Producer. Photography Enthusiast.

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paradox

Deidre Combs Deidre Combs leadership consultant. author. storm chaser.

Deidre Combs provides leadership and cross-cultural conflict skills as a consultant, coach, author, mediator, and professor. She developed the core foundations course for Montana State University's Leadership Fellows Certificate Program. [www.combsandcompany.com]

PostCOMBS

If you’d asked me what I was passionate about, I would’ve said “conflict.” That might seem a bit off when you consider the suffering in war-torn countries or the misery of divorcing couples, but I have a strange belief in the power of discord. I don’t like it – I find disagreement risky and dangerous – but I also know conflict’s critical importance and at its core I find tremendous meaning.

I can’t recall a time when I became better without being messed with. Sometimes conflict appears as a bit of internal struggle, like when a teacher presents information I haven’t considered before. Those are the easy gifts of growth, where I’m disrupted, I shift, and I quickly return to stability. Yet, the big battles, the experiences that rip my identity or my life apart, have held the most potential.

My husband calls me a storm chaser because I get strangely excited when someone recounts a midlife crisis, a furious sibling, or a battle with illness. Those situations are lousy – my chest and throat often ache when witnessing someone’s pain – yet I’m bolstered by seeing the victim now standing at the doorway of amazing possibility. It’s terrifyingly fantastic.

I’m not drawn to the lightning or gusts of an emotional hurricane, but instead to what lies at its axis. Conflict is a fabulous container for paradox. It’s where the best worst things happen. In conflict, we become wretchedly beautiful. In the eye of the tempest, irreconcilable opposites are no longer. It’s the place of up-down, light-dark, and you-me that Carl Jung called “the transcendent function.” Our adversaries push us to see a bigger, chaotically perfect reality where more belongs. Turmoil crafts a space where each side can be right and wrong, where everyone provides a critical, yet always incomplete, view of the whole. Conflict’s crucible has afforded me my greatest glimpses of a Larger Unity, or what some might call the Divine or the Tao.

I must admit that this month when a friend called, angry with me, I wasn’t thrilled. Yet, after so many years of conflict research, observation, and personal experience, I also deeply trusted that the disruption held potential salvation. “Suit up,” I told myself and headed toward the gale. I went looking for the center and what I’ve found to be my most direct path Home.

– Deidre Combs

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