Pick your battles

Are you picking the right battles?

Are you picking the right battles? Or is it time to hang the gloves?

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’:

  1. Have a fighting chance – Collate solid, evidence-based arguments and make sure you have the resources you need to win.
  2. Find the right support – Seek professional advice, the point of view of people you value or of those who have been in similar circumstances.
  3. 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?

8 thoughts on “Pick your battles

  1. Such a great topic Kim. So relevant to anyone dealing with stakeholders whether they be clients, management or even suppliers. It can be a fine balance between knowing when to push back and when to let it ‘go through to the keeper’ (sorry, had to let an Aussie cricket analogy creep in there).

  2. Oh so true. I couldn’t agree with you more. ‘Picking your battles’ is relevant to all aspects of your life, not just work. Keep up those inspiring words. At least you know that Jo and I are benefitting.

  3. Thanks for your comments Jo and Nicola! My instinct was telling me the two of you would be able to relate to this post… 😉

  4. Your post is so relevant to me right now, it is kind of uncanny reading it. Hard to learn to let go and do what you feel in your heart is not the right thing… Or in my case is a stupid thing to do. I spend a lot of my time doing stupid things.

    • I hear you Lucie… It can be quite frustrating. If a happy middle isn’t possible, maybe try to think of slight changes you could make that would best align with your own views. Or express your views loud and clear once so you know and they know what your professional/personal opinion is, and then move on. I’m sure you’ve done all these already… Hang in there!

    • Surround yourself with our amazing family and your beautiful children and friends… And remember: you’re awesome! Lots of love. xx

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