Nine weeks and no solution in sight. The battle lines between the Hong Kong protesters and police are drawn and it is difficult to see when they will end and how it will end without more violence.
Let me be clear: I’m not about to get into the politics of Hong Kong here. If the two sides haven’t been able to solve their conflict after nine weeks, I definitely can’t solve it in a 500-word article. The point, rather, is to note that sometimes the more force you apply, the less effective it becomes.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Over the years I’ve learned that sometimes I need to pump the brakes. This lesson applies to all aspects of my life. With my team, especially the young folks I love to hire and watch grow. It’s there at the negotiating table when I’m trying to get a deal done. I apply it to relationships when I’m trying to persuade another person to see it my way.
You can learn what amount of force is appropriate in any given situation only by trial and error – and it may take you the rest of your life to figure it out. I have had my share of moments when I kept pushing long past the point of effectiveness. It’s happened in personal connections. I’ve experienced it in business too. I’ve absolutely been at the bargaining table when, because I believed I had win every point, I ended up losing the whole deal.
When confronted with a super aggressive opponent, it doesn’t pay for you to stay toe to toe trading shots. If Mr. or Ms Testosterone try to control the action, let them. Or let them think they are. Let them mistake your silence for weakness.
In life, sometimes you’ve got to let things quiet down, let them marinate in reason and introspection. If you don’t, you could easily lose the girl or the guy or the deal, or the team at work might not achieve what you’re trying to accomplish.
What I’ve had to learn the hard way is that good friends aren’t obligated to do everything you want, when you want it, and how you want it done. If they choose to exercise their independence, it doesn’t mean you need to cast them aside. It’s one thing to have an uncomfortable conversation with a friend who’s willing to engage with you and listen to your point of view, and quite another to acknowledge that you can’t change his or her mind or make that person apply your beliefs to his or her life.
As we grow older we don’t lose friends. We just learn who the real ones are.