Tag Archives: Winning

Take that!

9 May

I have a friend who is generally nice, and amiable. But when she gets angry, she has no boundaries to what she will say or do. She says things that are vicious, and destructive to make her point. She goes way too far. I asked her about this, and she said she does it so the argument will end quickly. “If you crush them, they give in, and the fight is over,” she said, and in some ways she’s right. I have another friend with the same model. If he ever has a disagreement he, too, goes way too far. He uses a cannon when a flyswatter would have been enough. He says and does horrible things to hurt the other person, and it’s always destructive. He also says that he does this because it ends the fight quickly. And he likes returning to the relationship after the destruction to patch everything back up, and make it better. He likes that part a lot. It’s like a personal destroy, and recovery mission.

There could be no worse models for handling disagreements than these, and yet despite discussing the situation with them several times, they are either unable or unwilling to change. And so it continues. I’ve had many experiences with both of these people through the course of our friendships, and when they get angry and say horrible things, and make destructive comments way out of the scope of the disagreement, I am so stunned that I naturally end the conversation. The argument is over quickly, which is their goal – but the pain, and damage from the conversation remain. As a result of these behaviors, whether they acknowledge it or not, their relationships with others suffer. After they attack someone, it takes a while for the injured party to recover, and begin to trust them again. And sometimes they won’t ever trust them again, and decide instead to let the relationship go.

If we go for the jugular in our disagreements, if we go too far for whatever reason, we may lose more in the end than we want. People are flexible to a point. They will allow us to hurt them to a point. But once that point is reached, they may walk away, and abandon the relationship. So the question comes, is it worth the cost of a friendship to make a point? Is it worth losing someone we value so we can win? There is nothing to be gained by crushing others because of a disagreement. We may feel powerful in the moment, but that power is an illusion. The only power we are really displaying is the power to destroy a relationship. Anyone can do that. It’s not powerful at all. So, is it worth it to win the argument at any cost? Perhaps we need to rethink that. Perhaps the real power is when we use discretion and respect, and protect the relationships we cherish, even in conflict.

We all disagree from time to time. We all let others down sometimes. We will naturally argue, and we will have uncomfortable discussions. Unless we are fighting for our lives, there is no justifiable reason to destroy anyone we are disagreeing with. It’s just a disagreement. Sure, maybe they let us down, maybe they hurt our feelings, or maybe they did something truly horrible. No matter what they’ve done, trying to destroy them will not restore what has been lost, or repair the situation. It will probably make it worse. If we lose our self-control, and if we lose the relationship altogether, winning the argument won’t be worth it.

Today if you have a disagreement with someone, even if they’ve been horrible to you, remember that what you do is your decision. You may vanquish them, stick the knife in their heart so to speak, but what will you gain afterward? Will it be worth how you feel about yourself later? Will it be worth losing a friend? Think before you throw that spear. Think before you say those words. Think. Will it be worth the cost? What do you really want to gain?

Are you for real?

6 Apr

One day I went out to sit on my patio and enjoy the afternoon air. I looked across the yard and saw the most amazing tiny birds flying in and out of my honeysuckle. We have a lot of hummingbirds where I live, but these didn’t look like those. I had no idea what they were. They were beautiful – all black and white, and there were dozens of them. I watched in amazement for a little while, and then decided to go inside and get my binoculars so I could see them up close without disturbing them. I got the binoculars and sat back down, ready to look at the incredible tiny birds in my garden, and you can imagine my surprise when upon seeing them up close I realized they weren’t tiny birds at all. They were moths. Moths. Big, black and white moths. Suddenly I was no longer impressed and they were no longer amazing, because in my mind, they had morphed from something unique to something common. I mean, really, who is impressed by moths? Did it change they way they looked – no. Did it change the way they flew around – no. The only thing that changed was me. In our lives we can sometimes mistake “moths” for something beautiful and rare. Sometimes we make those mistakes with the people we interact with. We meet someone new, and for some reason they captivate us, draw us in, and we think they’re amazing. But sometimes that initial attraction fades as we get to know them and see them for who they really are. It’s impossible to know someone well when they are new to us. When we meet new people, most of us put our best foot forward. We want to make a good impression, especially if the person we are meeting has the ability to positively affect our lives. Maybe it’s a new boss, a new date, a friend’s family member, our new in-laws, a physician or even a new co-worker. We want them to like us so we’re careful, and we try hard to look good. There is nothing wrong with that. But over time it’s impossible to keep trying so hard to be perfect and eventually who we really are – flaws and all – will shine through. We are all moths in our own ways, BUT we are all also beautiful birds in our own ways. When we feel drawn to someone new, we may only be seeing their “bird” side and not the other. Eventually we’ll see them as they really are. Nobody is perfect and it’s important that we live in the real world. So learning who someone really is moves us forward in our relationship with them. It’s important to see them for real. And it’s important for them to see us for real. I really wish I was taller, I wish I was younger, I wish I was better looking, and I wish I was more perfect. But who I am now is enough. I am the best I can be right now. Tomorrow I might do better or I might falter. But day by day, being genuinely who we are, is where we need to be. Be yourself. Accept yourself. Love yourself. Nothing is more attractive than that.

There is only one reason.

3 Apr

I have an acquaintance who knows all about business. She’s knows how to start one, how to market it, how to sell it, and how to be a success at it. She reads dozens of business magazines and books on success. She knows all the buzzwords, all the famous people, all the best jobs and all the names of the companies that are moving up and making names for themselves. She’s like a business guru. She books herself in small venues to give speeches about business – how to get started, what to do when problems come up, how to be successful, and she’s filled with advice for everyone. But she has never DONE anything in business herself. She talks all the time about the companies she’s going to start, and all the success she’s going to have, the millions of dollars she’s going to make, and how she’s going to change the business world. But she never does anything. All she does is read constantly about these things, talk continually about them, and try her hardest to convince everyone around her that she is a success.

When asked why she hasn’t yet done anything to get her business plans going, she has a lot of excuses – all of which sound pretty good. “The market isn’t right for this model at this time. I am working on getting the start up capital. I am looking for investors,” and my personal favorite, “I’m still fine tuning what I want to deliver.” Okay. Well all these excuses might sound good, but years have gone by, she has no money, she struggles every month to pay her rent, she’s always scrounging around for some place to give a speech about success, and she’s really talking the talk. But that’s all it is – talk. She never steps up and starts.

There are innumerable reasons not to do things. Innumerable! If you aren’t ready or don’t really want to do something, the reasons you can come up with never end. There is an old story of a man who asked his neighbor if he could borrow his axe. The neighbor said no. He didn’t seem to be using the axe so the man asked him why he couldn’t borrow it. The neighbor said, he was sorry but he was making soup. What does soup have to do with me borrowing your axe inquired the man. Well, said the neighbor, if I don’t want to lend you my axe one excuse is as good as another. And it is.

We have a lot of reasons why we aren’t doing something we’ve been thinking we want to do. We can have as many reasons not to do things as we like. We could just say our hair is growing today or we have a bone in our arm. Really, any excuse will do. But if we want to do something there really is only one reason to do it – because we want to. That’s all. It’s simple. We want to do it and so we do it. If we don’t want to do it, we can stall. We can wait as long as we like until we’re ready to face the truth. And the real truth generally is that we’re not doing it because we don’t want to do it enough to take the steps to start.

One reason. That’s all it takes to do anything we want. One reason. Because we want to. Nothing else really matters. Think about it. One reason. And then decide.

With all my heart.

2 Apr

This is a heartbreaking story – literally. A young man from Georgia a couple of years ago needed a heart transplant. He was only 15. The transplant committee was hesitant to put him on the transplant list because he had a troubled past, and they were not sure he would comply with the directions after the transplant to ensure that it was effective. Hearts for transplant are not readily available and come at the highest cost. So determining who gets one is a very serious business. The boy’s mother appealed to the press who immediately took up her cause and he got the transplant. He was grateful and happy at the time saying the transplant would help him, “So I can live a second chance. Get a second chance and do things I want to do,” he said. It was a happy outcome for him and for his family who loved him.

Fast forward two years. This week that same boy died in a car chase with police after an attempted robbery and in a stolen car. He was 17. It’s horribly sad on several levels. First of all, he was given two years of life he would not have had without the death of his donor, and being allowed to receive his new heart. Secondly, he obviously did not value that gift enough to change his life, and really do those things he said he wanted to do. Unless, of course, what he wanted to do was die in a car chase with police, which is doubtful.

The heart – we give it a lot of attention, and rightly so. Of course, besides the brain, it’s the organ that keeps us alive. We need it unconditionally. But what about the other “heart?” The one we refer to when we love someone, the one we talk about when someone is kind, the one we attribute to our charity and sensitivity. “She wears her heart on her sleeve. He has such a good heart. My heart hurts when I see such pain.” When we talk about our heart in that way, we refer to our human-ness. Our capacity to love and care. It’s a powerful thing, our heart, and all the emotions we attribute to it.

But the heart should not outweigh the brain. The brain is what tells us what is real, where our reasoning is, and helps us figure things out. Who among us hasn’t fallen in love with someone or something with our hearts, but realized with our brains that it would never fly? We need to reason even when there is emotion. We need to think even when we’re captivated. Sometimes that may take a little time until all the facts uncover themselves, and sometimes we know right away it’s not a good idea to follow our “hearts.” We need both our brains and our hearts to make decisions and if we’re careful, and take a little time, those decisions will be made well. Not always, of course, but if we think, we’ll be more successful than if we don’t.

Once I bought the most amazing jacket – I just loved it from the moment I saw it and it was on sale, so I bought it. It was expensive but I was completely crazy about it. So I followed my heart, pulled out my credit card and bought it. I was ecstatic all the way home with my new find. I couldn’t wait to wear it. But when I got home and pulled it out of the bag I noticed a problem with one of the sleeves I had not seen in the store. There was a big pull in the fabric and no matter how I twisted it and tried to fix it, there was no hope. And then when I looked at the color in the light of day, instead of the light in the store, it didn’t look so great. In fact it was ugly. Ugh. I could not return it – no sale returns clearly posted in the store, and now I was stuck with an expensive jacket I would never wear. I kept it in my closet for over a year as a reminder to me to THINK before I jumped when my heart told me to.

Making a bad purchase is a small thing in the scope of our lives, but the reminder to think before following our hearts is an important lesson. The boy with the heart transplant had been given a second chance at life. He had been given an extraordinary gift and in the end, he squandered it. He could have done amazing things with his life. He could have chosen to be noble. He could have helped others. He could have been the example for good. But he followed his other “heart” – his base desires and did not use his brain. And now he is gone. We should do better. We can use our hearts for all the great and tantalizing moments in our lives, but we can also engage our brains to think before we act. Be kind, be loving, be compassionate, be careful, AND be wise. Use your heart for good, and use your brain to help you achieve that good.