Like many, I was saddened to hear about the recent loss of the great actor James Gandolfini to a heart attack. Millions of us spent years riveted to our televisions, watching Gandolfini's savage, troubled Mafia boss Tony Soprano struggle to survive his family and his Family. His incredible performance changed television, making the flawed anti-hero someone to build a series around.
What made us watch Tony Soprano was his duality. As brilliantly brought to life by Gandolfini, Tony was both a lost, vulnerable man-child and a brutal, amoral murderer. The fascination lay in that duality, which mirrors the duality in each of us. Tony was a terrifying bear of a man who could break down and sob like a four-year-old. He was merciless thug and killer who struggled with anxiety, self-loathing, and his desire to be more than what he allowed himself to be.
Each of us has a dual nature, a light and a shadow. We struggle to balance who we are with who we're supposed to be. While we lead our teams maintaining a cool, well-dressed exterior, our true life's energies complete with pains and passions that demand attention beneath the surface. Tony Soprano tortured himself by refusing to listen to his other side; in the end, violence, greed and power defined who and what he was.
Wisdom lives in the place where our two natures complement, rather than torture each other. Robert Frost spoke to the idea of unifying our dualities in his "Two Tramps in Mud Time", a passage of which reads:
My object in living is to unite my avocation and my vocation
as my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
and the work is play for mortal stakes,
is the deed ever really done For Heaven and the future's sakes.
My daily journey is learning ways to make "love and need" one.
What does it make possible, in our leading and our lives, when we recognize and encourage the recognition of our full selves?