There are two kinds of people in the world – those who give up too easily and those who give up too infrequently. No matter which one of these is you, it can become a problem. There is a time and a place for everything. A time to give up and a time to endure. A time to fight and a time to forfeit.
Growing in our ability to discern when to do each can dramatically transform our lives. It can change how we feel, the status of our relationships, and the attitude/perspective we carry around that shapes everything we say, think, and do.
Our society does not really love nuance. We don’t like complications. We want things to be one thing or another. Balance can be elusive.
But the truth is there are very few things in life that are just inherently terrible. Most evil things are, at the root, some good desire gone bad. Some small element of the truth magnified to be the whole truth. This is as comforting to us as it is dangerous. We tend to ignore the danger and lean into the comfort.
When it comes to fighting versus forfeit, we tend to rush to one extreme or the other. We want to make one a formulaic way of life, an all-circumstance posture or way of being. We become lost in whether we are a fight or flight person – which is “better”. Neither are bad and neither are perfect.
When we fight too much, we leave a wake of burnt bridges and broken relationships. We can become addicted to winning, competitive to a fault. Unchecked, we will use the people around us as pawns, develop an arrogance of superiority, or a chip on our shoulder as perpetual victims.
When we forfeit too much, we lose ourselves and we deprive the world of an important voice. We stew in loneliness and a quiet sense of superiority. Or we feel worthless and insignificant, constantly regretting our own self.
Breaking Into Balance
To begin finding a balance, we have to accept that a balance is necessary. Life is not a battle. Nor is it a compromise. It is neither. And both.
It boils down to this. Every circumstance we face is not an opportunity to fight or give up. It is an opportunity to make our choices. And the best method for decision making is to try our best to figure out what really matters to us. What are our deepest values? What is the vision we have for our life and for our world.
Too often, whether we fight or forfeit depends solely on how we feel. It is an exercise in instant gratification. What makes us feel good in the moment. All of us have had the experience of just how fleeting this can be. What made me feel good in my moment of anger or sadness of loneliness was not very sustainable and, as often as not, leads to prolonged sufferings.
Vision is an exercise in delayed gratification. What journey are we on? What do we really want?
Rather than quitting, fighting, forfeiting, complaining, or blaming based on the momentary tyranny of our emotion-driven narratives of the future, we do much better to be driven by what really matters to us. Not just what we are striving to achieve, but what we are striving to be.
In this sense, each circumstance we face is an invitation to test our vision. Or, perhaps better said, to test our resolve toward our vision. If your vision is true, it is worth fighting for. But fighting does not always mean plummeting others. Sometimes those people you can’t stand or the ideas that infuriate you are co-laborers toward a true vision rather than enemies trying to keep you from it. All true visions work in harmony with one another.
If you are engaged with something that is entirely incompatible with your vision, then is the time to forfeit. But “incompatible with your vision” is not code for “I don’t like this” or “this is not what I want to hear”. There are very few things you will encounter that are not in some way compatible with your vision.