Is This Battle Worth Fighting?

It was Peter Drucker who said, “Our mission in life should be to make a positive difference, not to prove how smart or right we are.”

How often does the temptation to prove you’re right and they’re wrong, or you have power and they have none, win out? How often when we have the opportunity to show our authority or our brainpower do we stop long enough to consider: This might not be the best option if my intention is to have a positive result on those around me. Where is the ‘pause button’ when your buttons get pushed?

In Marshall Goldsmith’s latest book, Triggers, he describes the first principle you’ll want to follow, if you want to have a positive affect in this world. Just as the physician’s first principle is First, Do no harm, and the sailor’s first principle is Know where the wind is coming from. It’s phrased in the form of a question; one you should be asking yourself whenever you must choose to either engage or ‘let it go.”

The short version is AIWATT and stands for:

Am I willing,

at this time,

to make the investment required

to make a positive difference on this topic?

He tells the story of a farmer who is rushing to get his produce to market, traveling down the river in a boat when another boat comes rushing at him. He yells at the other boat, “Change direction! You idiot, you’re going to hit me!” over and over to no avail. Then as he glares at the other boat, he realizes there is no one in it. It has pulled away from its moorings and is floating downstream with the current.

He behaved one way when he thought there was another person at the helm, but now just feels foolish when he realizes it’s just an accident and there is no one to blame. The truth is we behave more calmly with ‘an empty boat’. When there is no scapegoat, we can’t get upset. Like when a car cuts you off in traffic, you take up battle at least internally with the driver of that car. If it were a runaway car, you might be frightened but would you yell at the car?

The moral is there is never anyone in the boat or the car. Your environment is in a constant state of chaos. The empty boat or car is not targeting you, just as the people in your everyday life pushing your buttons are not targeting you. You always have a choice as to whether or not you take it personally. Whether or not your respond in anger, or to show you’re right and try to put others down or in their place. Behavior is a choice, period.

So ask yourself in that ‘moment’ when your button gets triggered: Am I willing at this time, to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic? And if the answer is No, then let it go. You are making a positive difference by letting it go. It’s just like closing your office door when you don’t want to be disturbed. You are taking responsibility for setting yourself up for success rather than leaving the door open and then complaining that you can’t get anything done due to interruptions.

Our environment will temp us many times each day to take up battle and engage in pointless skirmishes. You can choose to respond by doing nothing. By controlling your environment, you give yourself a little breathing space to exercise awareness, ask yourself AIWATT, and make the choice to tackle the challenges that really matter in a way that makes a positive difference. This puts you back in the drivers seat.


~ by transformativethoughts on July 23, 2015.

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