Appreciate Your Adversaries, V
Start By Appreciating Your Own Strengths And Weaknesses
This series has focused on how you can make your own life happier (and more productive) by learning to appreciate your adversaries. It's true: sometimes, you have to oppose and defeat a committed adversary; but you'll often do better by starting with a mindset of appreciation. See your opponent as just another human, like yourself. Find something good about her. And remember - from her perspective, you are the adversary... and you need to learn why.
Again, there are two types of person out there in the world, and inside each of us. Too few of us are typical examples of The Entrepreneur - the intrepid, self-reliant producer. Too many of us are closer to exemplifying The Victim - the scared, political cynic. But we all have both within us, and we're dominated by one or the other at different times in our lives based on which inner image we feed and which we "starve." Appreciating your adversary is a great way to feed the inner Entrepreneur of both parties, and to leave both inner Victims hungry.
Which image is governing you today? Most of my coachees, accomplished leaders all, would immediately say they're dominated by their better nature (their inner Entrepreneur). But it isn't always true. The biggest felt need among these leaders is to be more inspirational... and, through coaching, they soon realize the key to accomplishing that is to be more inspired. If a given leader were truly inspired, he probably would not be seeking to become more inspirational... and it would be much more obvious that his inner Entrepreneur was in control.
So the best starting point is to begin with a self-check. Are you willing to take risks to create something (whether or not it's a commercial enterprise), or are you more content to criticize those who do? Are you driven by a relentless optimism, or do you find it easier to come across as a "realist" by seeing the glass as half empty? Do you seek to make winners of everyone around you, or do you see your work (and life) as a win-lose proposition with yourself in constant danger of losing?
One clue about which inner image is ruling you: How many adversaries do you perceive in your life? We all end up with opponents, often because of this natural conflict between the Entrepreneur and the Victim. People seem to oppose you for no good reason, just because you presume to take initiative in your job or start a business. But "pure" Entrepreneurs, while not dismissive of their adversaries, don't assume they'll have many. They find the good in others, and continuously seek to nourish it. A "pure" Victim would take the opposite approach, assuming everyone's out to get them and continuously girding himself for battle.
Many good people sometimes find themselves at the mercy of their own inner Victim. If you check yourself out and find you're struggling to put your inner Entrepreneur in the driver's seat, the good news is that coming to that realization is an excellent start. You are not perfect. You have strengths, but you also have weaknesses. You have tendencies that you'd be smart to well understand and use (whenever possible) to your advantage. And, no matter how tough things are or how weak you may think yourself to be, you have it in you to be a GREAT Entrepreneur in whatever endeavor you choose. You just need to start feeding the good parts of your inner nature, and starving those Victim-tendencies that don't serve you or your mission well.
Finding inspiration in your own life is how you start to become a more inspirational leader. Appreciating your adversaries, properly done, almost always gives you at least a little inspiration. And appreciating yourself, both your strengths and your shortcomings, is perhaps the first door to open in exploring how you can appreciate your adversaries.
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