You Can’t Win ’Em All
“You can’t win ’em all.”
This was an old war film from the 70’s starring Tony Curtis and Charles Bronson. I haven’t seen it personally but Wikipedia tells me it was about two soldiers assigned to transport an Ottoman governor’s daughters from Turkey to Cairo. But, the governor wasn’t exactly open with the soldiers about what they were really protecting.
“You can’t win ’em all.”
I also heard this as a child whenever we lost a game. It was supposed to be comforting.
We still lost and our goal was to win…every game, every time we got on the field. It did nothing to hear we were not supposed to win every game. In fact, it made me feel like you, the coach, were not as interested in winning as I was.
But then, adulting happened.
I began to have conversations and meetings where my job was influence. As a leader, my job was to guide and facilitate but also to persuade, if necessary, in order to move forward.
I discovered it wasn’t always possible to win everyone over. No matter how charismatic, persuasive or how compelling a story I had, there was inevitably one person who wasn’t impressed or swayed by it all.
Sometimes you gain unanimous approval and at other times, only general consensus. Unanimous approval feels great. Everyone is 100% on board and the energy is locked in.
But in some cases, it’s just not possible. It may be a sensitive issue. Or, it may be spiteful. Some people simply don’t believe in unanimous passage. Contrarians, we call them. And we think about this as a negative.
Most often, a dissenting voice, a difference of opinion or a differing perspective is necessary to uncover blind spots. But you must be open to the possibility blind spots exist. This is where unhealthy conflict enters. When we can only see our side of the coin and to us, it looks complete, we miss the existence of the other side of the coin…the side which has the sticky gunk on it from the cupholder in the car. We miss the stuff which can possibly hold us back.
So, how do we navigate this? How do leaders navigate this?
1. Give up the idea of winning. Instead, choose results. What are you after? What goal do you need to achieve as a group/team/community? Focus on how we can get there instead of getting there YOUR WAY!
2. Use an empathic eye. Ask why. Why do people really feel or respond the way they do? What color glasses do they have? Is there something which causes them to see the world in the way they do?
3. Communicate with confidence and yet with compassion. It’s okay to speak strongly and firmly. And it’s also okay to add some humanity to your words. Most people are doing the best they know and our job is to help them learn, grow, and move forward, all while feeling validated and valued.
So, our job isn’t to win ’em all. Our job is to connect, communicate and inspire results.
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