Choose your battle wisely
In nature, everything is set up wisely. As a rule, an animal does not claim what it cannot hold, swallow, or digest. Even the strongest and fiercest lion, without extreme necessity, will not attack the leader of a herd of bulls. No, he would prefer a young, weakened or wounded one. And it will do it suddenly from an ambush. A predator has an a priori limited reserve of strength for chasing and fighting. Each false start quickly brings death from injury or exhaustion in the wild.
Unlike the animal world, humans often act in highly irrational ways. How do you explain the actions of an office clerk who, after cutting each other off in the road, jumps out of his car to start a fight with a complete stranger who may be a professional MMA fighter? What goes through the mind of a pedestrian who “punishes” a motorist by walking quickly across a zebra without even turning his head at the screeching of the brakes? What drives the entrepreneur, when he arrogantly rejects the possibility of conflict mediation and rushes to sue his partner, which will suck a lot of nerves, time and money out of both of them?
In nature, a predator chooses only the battles in which he has the maximum probability of winning. So if an attack fails, he stops it immediately. Or retreats without regret if the game suddenly fought back strongly. This is not the last hunt in his life. If he stays alive, there will be many others.
The difference is that the predator puts everything on zero, only being really cornered. A man, on the other hand, easily and on a trivial matter, drives himself into an imaginary corner. In the offender on the road, the clerk sees the “universal” evil. The pedestrian tries to restore “world justice.” The businessman fights for what “has always rightfully belonged to him”. There is much hidden pleasure in such an impulse. For which, however, neither of them is willing to pay. After an unfortunate confrontation, one of the participants goes to intensive care and the other to prison. The fates of their children, relatives, co-workers, and random bystanders are ruined. Afterwards, when they come to their senses, the participants regret the excessive price they paid for the short-term pleasure.
At the very least, it’s a matter of soberly assessing one’s chances of success. If in business you know what your overwhelming advantage is, have limited your risks, have developed a plan B, then go ahead — boldly go on the attack. But if there is nothing but the obsession: “This is stronger than me. I can’t do otherwise. I just have to do it,” then it’s best to pause the situation and ask yourself: “Is this my battle? Can I win it?”
In this sense, the war is very instructive. In today’s Russian aggression against Ukraine, we can see that the Russian leadership is acting even less intelligently than any animal in the air, water, or land. The Russian Federation imprudently attacked someone who is clearly too tough for her. Not only is Russia unable to defeat Ukraine, but the injuries resulting from the fight may be incompatible with life for her. In the end, the Russian empire may collapse and fall to its original pieces.
But in addition to a developed neocortex for planning and evaluation, what distinguishes humans from animals is the ability to ask themselves the fundamental question: “What for?”. Depending on the answer, humans (and the countries) reveal themselves to be either the crown of nature or the lowest creature in the world.
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As a business therapist, I help tech founders with rapid business transformation. My specialty is accelerating decision-making at the intersection of business and personality.