In business I have been challenged many times on the issue of picking your battles. Thankfully early on I became aware of the importance of this issue and despite EXTREME testing, I would like to think I chose my battles pretty well.
It will always be subjective as to just how well I coped, but I was subjected to many tests, where if I failed, I could have been dragged down a very, very deep hole which I may well have never gotten out of (examples to be revealed).
What does picking your battles mean?
So, what does picking your battles mean? To me it effectively means undertaking a cost/benefit analysis on any situation that presents itself to decide whether to pursue it, or to avoid/ignore it. It is not to say that I, or you should literally get your calculator out and start crunching numbers, rather, you need to assess in your mind the merit of taking the matter further. What’s the likely outcome and therefore is it worth it?
There will be some situations that cannot be avoided; however, you still may well need to decide just how far to go. If you go too far, the increased cost may not be worth it.
Remain in your intelligent state!
If you want to choose well with what battles to fight then you better ensure that you are in your intelligent state. If you are stuck in your emotional state, then chances are, you will make the wrong decision which could lead to a lot of hurt.
In life you see it all the time, where people get very emotional about something which then starts to cloud their judgement. Often the excuse given, is that it is a matter of principle. Principles are important and many a great person has sacrificed a lot for their principles. Where would we be if we did not stand up to Adolf Hitler? How different would America be, if not for Abraham Lincoln?
There are principles worth fighting for despite a heavy cost, but in my experience, often people use “it is a matter of principle” as an excuse for the fact that they just couldn’t get out of their emotional state and make an unclouded judgement.
Presumably I watched too many old movies as a kid because I grew up with this old-fashioned view that the good guy will ultimately win. Justice will be done. This mindset has potentially been an Achilles Heel for me.
My natural motivation is to see that justice is done, that the good guy wins and the bad guy gets what’s coming to them. Present me with a potential battle and my inclination is going to be to remain in my emotional state and go for justice.
Thankfully somewhere along the way, I got given a healthy dose of pragmatism. Presented with a challenging situation and a battle would ensue in my mind between my pragmatic self and my ideological self, which was encamped in my emotional state.
When you are mentally grappling with an issue, my first advice would be to not rush any decision. A rushed decision is likely to be an emotional decision. Even if there is a deadline for a decision, there is still likely to be some time in which to analyse your options.
Sometimes the situation will be clear-cut, so your mind will not be grappling with what to do, in which case you are able to confidently make a quick decision.
In the case of my accidental purchase of a business from a convicted criminal, he tried to blackmail me. It was instantly obvious to me where this was heading, a very slippery slope to oblivion so I had no hesitation in saying no immediately. If I was going to go down, I wanted to go down fighting, not with a gun to my head (figuratively I hope!), being drained to there was nothing left.
His plan instantly failed as he just didn’t see that I had any option but to say yes. My other option looked pretty dire, but at least there was a chance. Going with his proposal, there was no chance, he was going to drain me of all my money and most probably destroy me mentally. A small chance was better than no chance.
Making the wrong decision could be very costly!
Subsequent to this event I was put many, many times into situations where if I made the wrong decision, it could well have been the end for me financially.
With the events that transpired, it may not have been enough to motivate the police to do anything, but from a commercial point of view, I was in a position to sue the vendor and our software provider, who happened to be his mate back in his home country.
You can never say a legal case is a certainty, but I was in a strong position given what evidence that I had. But here’s the reality. As much as I was confident that I would win my legal battle, that would just be the beginning. The judge would award me damages, but then the vendor would never have paid. I would then have had to take legal action to get paid, at which time he would have either skipped the country or declared himself bankrupt, either way, I had zero chance of getting compensation from him.
In terms of the software provider, I would have needed to get judgement in New Zealand and then go to his country to get judgement there, which like New Zealand, would be no guarantee that I would get paid. The reality? I could have been hundreds of thousands out of pocket, without compensation and meanwhile what would have happened to the business? Without me there to give it my full attention and will my money drained in legal fees, I may have legally won, but financially I would have lost everything!
I didn’t need a lawyer to spell it out to me, I had been around long enough to know the reality. This was a time where I had to forget about getting justice and just focused on surviving. I have heard too many stories when in situations not dissimilar to mine, people have not been able to get out of their emotional state and have pursued justice at a cost they could not afford to pay. In the scheme of life, there are more important battles to be fought.
Choose your battles wisely!
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