Whoever battles with monsters had better see that it does not turn him into a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
We have all heard the phrase, Win the battle, but lose the war. It is generally thought to originate from Sun Tzu and his penetrating ancient treatise, The Art of War. While often used, what do sayings like, Pick your battles wisely, and Win the battle, but lose the war really mean for you and me in the everyday world of cutting-edge business and demanding social graces? And how can we take the common sense behind these catchphrases and turn them into action plans that take our lives and out work to the next level?
In military situations, the best scenario occurs when you are not subjected to an effective attack (or counter-attack) from the enemy. If you are under a compelling strike, you do not want to find yourself spread so thin that you cannot potently batter back and find yourself grappling with strewing your resources in many different directions. Likewise, you don’t want to engage the enemy for too long or they will adjust to your strategy.
For those times (rare though they might be for some of you) when a warrior spirit and deeds are needed to serve you well, you might consider the following steps to success:
STEP ONE: Be well-informed (by getting to know your competition well). Find out all that you can about them. Social media is a marvelous tool for just such an adventure. Have they written anything? A blog perhaps? Take some time and meditate upon your adversary. Learn to think like they do. Discover their beliefs and, more importantly, the erroneous presumptions they have. Most people are creatures of habit and will repeat what they have found successful in the past. Use that information to read their minds so that you know what they will likely do next.
STEP TWO: Be adaptable (and give yourself lots of options). Two things will guarantee you are less than successful than you wish; namely, believing your own puffery and being satisfied with your past triumphs. If you are full of yourself and believe you are bullet-proof, you will never see the chinks in your armor that need defense or tending. And, if you parade through life satisfied only with the past and not caring to improve for the future, you fail to be creative and empowered. You must dedicate yourself to being tremendously creative and constantly push yourself outside your comfort zone. The more versatile you become, the more options remain available to you. And the more options that you discover, the better your choices in life necessarily become.
STEP THREE: Be confident (or at least act that way). The secret to having confidence in the midst of a conflict is discovering and bolstering that conviction beforehand. One of the best ways of reinforcing a confident outlook is by continually telling yourself, I can handle this. You can easily cement this belief by remembering your past successes and your knowledge and skill set (this is not the same, however, as resting upon your laurels). Every time you start to have a negative thought, I encourage you to turn that negativity around by rephrasing the thought into a positive statement.
STEP FOUR: Be willing to lose a battle here and there (and walk away). Sun Tzu wrote, If a battle cannot be won, do not fight it. Not every conflict is presented to you with the gift of winning. Sometimes, you are presented with the gift of losing, too. It keeps you humble and unpresuming. And . . . yes . . . there will be times when you are wrong and you simply need to admit that. Hey, it’s only one battle. You have more important things to accomplish in this life than the vanity of trying to browbeat an opponent when you don’t deserve victory in the first place.
By choosing your battles wisely, you can powerfully advance through life with more action and less reaction. Take time to develop a master plan that will serve you well in your quest to bring your dreams into reality.
Now . . . ONWARD!
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