Do you remember last time you got fired up about an issue at work? Disagreed with your client? Fiercely protested for your ideas to be heard?
I recall arguing about a process I felt our organisation desperately needed to change. I was like a dog with a bone – I just wouldn’t let go. I fought the issue for years, only to achieve minuscule successes.
Like on a battlefield, needs, ideas, perceptions, decisions and dreams clash against each other every day in the workplace. When the issue is close to our hearts, choosing to let go of it is very challenging; it often feels like giving up on ourselves and acknowledging defeat. It can hurt our pride, self-esteem, confidence and self-perception. So does this mean we should fight every battle important to us? I would – perhaps with controversy – argue the opposite.
An event which happened to one of my clients this week reminded me how important it is to ‘pick our battles’ – even the ones that matter the most to us.
To me, there are three main criteria in deciding when it is worth ‘going to war’:
- Have a fighting chance – Collate solid, evidence-based arguments and make sure you have the resources you need to win.
- Find the right support – Seek professional advice, the point of view of people you value or of those who have been in similar circumstances.
- Be emotionally capable of fighting – Some situations affect us more emotionally than others. If fighting risks hurting us more than not fighting, than protecting ourselves by hanging the gloves may be the right thing to do.
There is incredible strength and wisdom in recognising the battle isn’t worth our time and effort. The key is to quit with professionalism and dignity.
The world of business is a very rich learning ground. Lost battles are not the most sought-after learning experiences, but they hold extremely valuable lessons and reflections that can help us innovate and move onward and upward.
So, what battles are you holding onto? Is it time to hang your gloves?