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Losing by Winning

Losing by Winning

This riff was inspied by Seth Godin’s blog. Here’s the link. The title is: Losing by winning. In most interactions, you’re capable of winning. If you push hard enough, kick someone in the shins, throw a tantrum, cheat a little bit, putting it all at stake, you might very well get your way. But often, this sort of winning is actually losing. That’s because we rarely have an interaction only once, and we often engage with people we know, where reputation and connection are at stake. Culture, it turns out, is built on people losing in the short run on behalf of the long-term win. Connection and trust and reputation are worth more than any single inning. Not to mention that a tantrum not only ruins the relationship, it can ruin your day as well.

What Seth Godin says applies crucially in divorce. As he notes so clearly, If you push hard enough, kick someone in the shins, throw a tantrum, cheat a little bit, putting it all at stake, you might very well get your way, but often, this sort of winning is actually losing. Why? Because a divorcee will almost surely interact with his or her ex again. Like it or not, you are connected even after divorce. To quote David Wolstencroft, “French historian Fernand Braudel once coined the phrase ‘wisps of tomorrow,’ referring to the forces of long-term danger we generally ignore in our all-consuming obsession present.”

Divorce is a long game, not two ships that pass in the night. As counterintuitive and unjust as it might appear to you now, you rarely win in divorce by following a policy of mich uber alles! As Joseph Joubert said, “The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” In that spirit, “the greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” (Sun Tzu)

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