Appreciate Your Adversaries, IX
What Do You Have To Lose?
You have an adversary or two in your life... someone who seems to oppose you at every turn... someone you're thinking about right now, without whom life would be so much easier. How have you dealt with that person? Have you tried showing him some kindness, or empathy, with the crazy notion that you might just turn the relationship around? Have you tried appreciation?
You can't avoid having adversaries. Whatever you do, whatever type of person you are, your objectives are bound to meet with objections... and usually, one person (maybe more than one) is a consistent objector. Whether you presume to own a business, or take a leadership role in your company, or even coach the kids' softball team, someone out there opposes you. Part of that phenomenon is due to the fact that there are two types of people out there, and inside each of us: the bold, responsible Entrepreneur, and the critical, political Victim. We're all dominated by the personality we feed; and whichever type you are, the other type will seem to oppose you at every opportunity.
I've made the point, here and with my coaching clients, that learning to appreciate your adversaries is a great starting point... and a great way to feed the inner Entrepreneur inside both you and the adversary. You've tried all forms of opposition; the inner Victim LOVES that. The more each of you continues to feel opposed and attacked, the stronger your inner Victims become, comfortable that the world truly is out to get you both. But appreciation starves the Victim, and gives the hungry inner Entrepreneur a nice meal of encouragement. You feel encouraged when you learn to appreciate others, and believe me, your inner Entrepreneur will burst forth as if on steroids if you manage to turn the relationship around, creating an ally where you once had an adversary. And it goes without saying, your adversary will feel more encouraged and empowered when she feels appreciated... and her inner Victim will start feeling hungry.
At least ninety percent of the adversaries in your life can be (at best) turned to allies or (at worst) neutralized in their opposition to you. It takes skill, which requires practice (and if you need a coach, call me), but if you can begin to be seen as a leader or entrepreneur who can appreciate even your toughest adversaries and show them kindness and empathy, you will almost come to believe you have no adversaries.
For the remaining few, you should still try some appreciation... but you'll find it doesn't help the situation. A tiny percentage of your adversaries have chosen Victimhood as a lifestyle choice, and they won't be budged from their dark side. When someone truly decides to declare themselves your enemy, no amount of kindess and appreciation will work. You have to engage and defeat them... but I'm guessing the tools you'd use for that sort of campaign are already well known to you, as they are to most of my emerging-leader clients.
But consider this: if you think of all adversaries as enemies, you are a weak leader. A strong leader knows that some adversaries are simply temporary foes who can be turned around.
You've tried opposition, and the result has been more adversarial interaction. Before you escalate to all-out war, try a little appreciation.
What do you have to lose?