Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tom Peters on enemies and friends

Build bridges with friends, rather than burn them with enemies.

Your scintillating personality and brilliant analytic skills rarely turn enemies into allies. And win or lose, you waste a hell of a lot of time training for the battle and cleaning up the mess.

Forget your enemies. Work around them. Work instead on developing friends, turning people who agree with you (a little bit or a lot) into passionate advocates and adherents. That is, surround your enemies with your friends.

Tom Peters
The Pursuit of WOW!
Vintage, 1994, p. 51

It is often a waste of time to debate something, unless the debaters sincerely seek Truth. Often, however, they seek only to conquer and strut, to insult and mock, to "prove" with harsh words, that they have the position of power and their opponent is a mere worm.

On the other hand, the vast majority of "good people" are lazy and self-centered. Most people fear conflict and flee controversy. So us more argumentative and passionate advocates must step in and knock a few heads against the wall. It's not as simple as "try to avoid conflict" or "argue about anything you feel like".

I was recently told that when you see something wrong or wicked, just saying something, scolding or warning is enough. You need not actually try to "change" what is going on. Bull. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi did not have this wimpy policy, though there are times when all you really can do is issue a warning, then move on.

A better course, in my experience, than "surrounding your enemies with your friends" is to take the situation in your own hands and grapple. Don't count on even your best friends to drop what they're doing to rally to your aid. Fighting solo is nearly always the best idea. Solve the problem, cure the illness, fix the damage, and move on toward your goals. Celebrate victory with your allies, but don't expect them to do much about your problems.

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