Blog: "Never Pick A Fight You Can't Win"
Posted on August 31 2020
It is a line from a movie I’m watching. A young boy tried to stand up for his friend. As a result he got slapped in the face and told “this is none of your business”. Afterwards, someone advised the boy “Admirable, standing up for your friend, but never pick a fight you can’t win”.
What do you think of the advice given to the boy? Personally I both agree and disagree. On one hand, his heart was in the right place and he had enough sense of self to stand up to an adult and defend something he valued. On the other hand, it is a hard lesson we all must learn in order to survive.
I always seem to pick fights I can't win. These are the kind of fights that preserve my values and support my construction of myself as an individual. I find it so hard not to pick those fights - and it often gets me in trouble. But how would I feel about myself if I didn’t stand up for what I believe in? I’d feel terrible. So I continue to pick fights I can’t win.
I have to remind myself that all have different values, different things we believe in and stand up for. Fights over values never seem to go anywhere. In the end, when we choose not to pick those fights, we must remember that your vision of yourself is more important than someone else’s vision of you.
It is a balance. Have the courage that little boy had – stand up for your friend, stand up for your values, take the slap, the reprimand, the disagreement. At the same time, know it is ok to step back if you know you can't win – rather ask if perhaps the disagreement means it should be discussed. Often, as was the case with the little boy, things are not discussed.
This was a lesson that stayed with the little boy into adulthood. It defined who he was and how he wanted to lead. He stood his ground and still found common ground. He grew up to lead his family - The Medici’s of Renaissance Florence - to support and forward the arts. The world of art would not be the same if not for Lorenzo Medici.
This is why I love art so - it just seems a wonderful way to find common ground and discuss where no one is offended. We are all individuals and we must value our differences. Value yourself. Respect the difference in others, but don’t let them define you. Like Medici, have the courage to be yourself, respect yourself and others, and create or collect what you love.
I’m pretty sure it is safe to say Lorenzo Medici had that courage. He didn't choose because it matched his sofa.