You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it – Margaret Thatcher
Oh dear! Nothing much springs to mind so why did I pick this one? I was going to write about it yesterday but then got sidetracked by the beautiful sunrise. Margaret Thatcher – formidable woman, first female Prime Minister of England. Having almost no interest in politics my knowledge of her is scarce and I haven’t gotten around to seeing the recent movie with Meryl Streep who will no doubt have done an excellent job portraying Maggie. I know she only slept a few hours a night like Winston Churchill (I particularly love his wisdom) and that Hugh Grant called her a ‘Saucy Minx’ in Love Actually which cracks me up every time because it is so contrary to the painting of her which he is addressing in his office. My only other memory of Maggie is that when I was about 9, in the mid 1970s my friend’s mother ran a cafe in an antiques market in the Kings road in Chelsea, London. Right outside the back door of the cafe was a residential street and a couple of doors down lived Margaret Thatcher before she became Prime Minister. My friend and I used to talk to the policeman guarding her front door. So I was very proud when she became Prime Minister, for that reason alone! (and because she was female of course).
That is a big digress. Nothing like a bit of procrastination at 6am in the morning. You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. She says ‘may’, so I assume she was used to winning battles first time but she appreciated that it might be necessary. What is she teaching us here? Perseverance? I think it is common knowledge that perseverance gets you a long way. You can wear people out with it. My son certainly has always done that and much as it is exasperating sometimes I am proud of this quality in him. I know it will take him far in life. And hopefully in the right direction. Right now it only wins him points on Game of Thrones on the computer and trading in everything he has for the latest iPhone etc. He somehow defines the few things he wants in life and goes after them like, like…, a dog with a bone?? I may be mixing my analogies there. I think dogs with bones simply hang onto stuff and don’t let go. Well I suppose he hangs on to ideas of what he wants. I would love to be more like that, undistracted and so darn certain of something. It means that you are on a direct path and of course you will get to where you want to go faster than taking my busy and active circuitous route. Of course the scenic route can be enjoyable so this determination and perseverance doesn’t necessarily make you happy.
With regards to the battle, I think a good example is where a property developer wants to get a building developed and the community are up in arms about the bulk and often ugliness of it. This happened to me a couple of years ago. We rallied, put in our submissions and the development was knocked back by the council. However the developer was probably counting on human laziness and apathy and kept trying until less and less people submitted objections and it snuck through. Maybe (we) had gotten out heads around this new development and started seeing some good in it, who knows? But I know that if I dislike it once it’s built that in effect I ‘asked’ for it, so I have no one to complain to but my apathy.
Of course just because you have this knowledge that trying again and again will likely win the battle for you does not make you the winner because other people know that too. There have been a few applications that get knocked back enough times for the developers to give up. I think it comes down to how much you care. And how much you care is probably a function of how easy going you are and how you can accept the world and make sense of it, seeing both sides and realising that there are no hard and fast truths, or enemies or perfect outcomes.
Now I think about it, a better saying to write about may be ‘Choose your battles’. I have heard it a lot and now that I am a little older I actually get it. I really do choose my battles, in fact I choose to not battle nearly all of the time. It doesn’t mean that people walk all over me. It means that I always try to put myself in their shoes and I suppose work out how much each of us care and whether it is worth the fray.
Think about battles with children. They care. They really care, whether it’s wearing the odd shoes to school (I let my 4 year old do that once and it was fantastic – it brought me new friends among the parents and plenty of comments but sadly she didn’t do it again) or going to bed that little bit later. Many times I let them have their way and they turned out great!
I see many caught up in their feelings of what’s right and wrong and of course I will have my say when I feel it’s justified but why let it become a battle as such? ‘War is never the answer’ shout the posters. Interesting that Margaret Thatcher uses these words actually; Fight and Battle. I guess it doesn’t have the strength of meaning if you say ‘You may have to talk about something more than once to get your point across’. Obvious. But you do need to say more than one sentence when you have any conversation and opening the lines of communication is always advised. As for me and my easy going ways, I believe they make me much happier than the high drama of battles. In my life I have had my share of battles and no one wins, least of all me. It is all consuming and very stressful. We are all miserable in the attempt. We question ourselves and our motives and by default have to make the other person wrong. We believe in good against evil when many times there is no such thing. Fairytales notwithstanding :). We might wonder why we didn’t deserve to win if we feel we have lost and it can hack at our self esteem. Forgiving and forgetting has so much to be said for in the search for inner peace. If you want to ‘defend your right to be unhappy’ as Eckhart Tolle puts it, just remember you must be achieving some kind of ‘reward’ from that being unhappy. Otherwise you would have found a way by now to get your head around the situation and changed it, either by moving away from the other battler (something I admit I do), working with them or deciding that it really is not important enough to you to continue. Imagine freeing up your thoughts and creativity from the repetitive, battling mindstream and using them instead on how you are going to best enjoy this day?
What I have learned from writing today is that yes, perseverance will get you where you want to go if you are sure you want it enough and know why you want it. Don’t forget the saying ‘be careful for what you wish for, you may get it’. We may find that we have ‘won’ but feel uncomfortable inside at another’s loss or the enemies we have made along the way. So for me the lesson is more about examining motives to ‘go into battle’ in the first place, seeing how much you really care and choosing your battles wisely. If it’s important commute them from battles to working together for the win-win. You may never need to do it more than one in that case. In a true battle, no one wins, not even the winner.