A Time For Peace, A Time For War

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In running Aaron+Gould, and in a leadership role at my church, I have a fair few battles to deal with on a weekly basis – all around people. People are the most wonderful thing in life, yet they are also the most complex. Whether it’s work, family, marriage or friends, there are always battles in your relationships. We all have critics, complainers, contenders and competitors.

Battles aren’t wrong. Disagreement, fall outs, and then making amends is like breaking a bone – when it heals, it makes the relationship stronger.

What I’ve been pondering this weekend is how do you decide what battles to fight, and which to leave? Is leaving a battle the same as loosing it? Or do you only loose if you fight and don’t win? Furthermoor, what makes a win?

I’ve always considered that you only go to war when the spoils are worth the endeavour.

That means you need to assess the scale of the battle and the potential scale of the outcome. Battling to get my wife to stop buying more shoes probably will take a lot of my emotional energy, and doesn’t have any spoils in the short term because she just doesn’t see the hundreds of shoes in the closet! However the potential long term outcome of the battle could cost me thousands of pounds over the coming years.

Determining long term spoil from short term spoil requires you to play the ‘what if’ game. What if we carry on spending money on shoes every month? What if I continue letting my child have their way even if it’s a small thing. What if I continue letting my critics go unchallenged, even though no ones listening now? What if I stopped that bully at work always forcing their opinion?

Playing the what-if game requires you know yourself and your goals pretty well. You don’t need to be precise, but you can’t be vague.

What do you guys think? How do you decide what to fight for?

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10th August, 2009

Comments

  • http://emmens.co.uk tobit

    some interesting thoughts.

    In our house we have a saying – “love wins” it grew as a response to “I’ve won!” and the arguments that quickly escalated between my (nearly) 5 year old and my 2 year old.

    We have to remind ourselves that while you might have been first, it is love that should always be allowed to win.

    So, in answer to your question, I only try to fight for things where I can see (sometimes with a lot of vision) that love has a chance of winning.

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Hey Scott, great to see you kick off the week with chewy topic.

    As more of a diplomat, my experience has been “what you fight grows”. It’s a silly rule-of-thumb that buys me just the few seconds I need before reacting – or more likely – over reacting to someone or something.

    This gives me more choices. More options for handling the situation. And saves me vast amounts of energy by only engaging “in battle” if it is absolutely the right path of action. This precious energy can be used more creatively elsewhere. Like commenting on leadership blogs like this.

    Best, Robin

  • http://emmens.co.uk tobit

    for some reason I can’t see where to reply to your last comment… so I will do so here.

    I do know what you mean

    http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/… is well worth a listen – a teaching from Rob Bell on forgiveness and stepping outside of the revenge cycle.

    What it spoke to me was that letting love win doesn’t mean you let things go back to how they were, it doesn’t mean you let yourself be abused, mistreated, taken advantage of.
    As a parent I have a responsibility to guide my children, and teach them and to provide discipline when it is needed. But my motive is to let them shine, to excel, to grow and to be transformed – and this might mean they end up being smarter, wiser or better than me. Well, I hope this is what it will mean.

    I don’t think there is a formula (although at work, HR ensure there are plenty of policies to follow when dealing with the people I line manage) although perhaps the formula is found in the attitude that 1 Corinthians 13 talks about.

    do tell me if I am making no sense at all!