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Finding opportunities and allies in each moment, rather than adding fuel to the fire (includes graphic language)

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Recently I was in a courthouse working to sort out a motion set for a hearing that morning, with a prosecutor after patiently waiting for the lawyer in front of me to do the same. Behind me, I heard my name called out by a lawyer who had been my ally up to then for many years. I waved to him, thinking he was greeting me. A minute later, the lawyer said something along the lines of  “Jon, I gotta get going somewhere. Give me a fu**ing break!”

I was done with the prosecutor by around that time, and replied along the lines of: “McCoy, what’s gotten into you? You’ve never spoken to me like that.” McCoy (not his real name) answered along the lines of: “Then GET OVER IT!” I replied: “Sorry that our relationship has deteriorated like this, which likely will be the last time I communicate with you.”

McCoy quickly recognized he had barked up the wrong tree, walked up to me privately, apologized, and said he had somewhere else he had to be right away after this present courtroom. I accepted his apology and said I was ready to return to where we had been before that day. Yes McCoy had revealed something about himself that did not appear to be a mere abberration .Who wants a lawyer, let along colleague, that walks into the courtroom with such negative, overscheduled energy?

I did everything fine dealing with McCoy that morning except for saying that our relationship had deteriorated and that I likely would not be communicating with him. That just offered fuel to the fire, which result did not happen in this instance, but could have. That also threw the feces back in the mouth of McCoy, who had seemed more in the position of mindlessly eating too much chili in the morning without considering the flatus effect on those around him, rather than skillfully directing any projectiles towards me, and he was still my potential ally. I could have just said something like “McCoy, I have liked you up til the time I awoke this morning, and would like this morning just put in the past.”

Why have I taken up so much ink writing about McCoy? Because the above scenario is a great one for considering the opportunities to vibrate highly at all times, even when others are farting up SBD storms and trying to throw dung. When they do that, it is better for me to put on a proverbial gasmask and protective plastic suit, and then to run the disinfectant, if I have to remain in their presence, than getting all irritated and angry. It reminds me of the boy who recognized that all his anger and upset was not going to prevent his mother from spanking him sometimes. Instead, he became skilled at anticipating a spanking and then shoving a book down his pants against his butt, and his mother somehow merely thought he had strong butt muscles rather than a book protecting him from physical pain (the mental pain is another matter).

When I was in the Sinai desert for a few days during a 1979 trip, our guide told us of the Bedouin tradition of welcoming to their tents all who requested temporary shelter. If the visitor was their enemy, they would be at a temporary truce during this sheltering, free to resume their hostilities at a later time. The desert is too harsh for people to do otherwise there other than to offer hospitality whenever requested.

Consequently, not only is everyone a potential ally, but every moment is a potential ally. We might awake with a dread of a seemingly insurmountable mountain of work at our office, or a strange and potentially scary lymph node on our neck (which may well be nothing but an outgrowth of a recent cold), hemorrhoids  (to continue today’s butt and scatalogical theme), or a broken pipe spraying toilet water all over our home. We have two choices at that point: Reacting (swearing up a storm) or seizing the moment (for instance doing the mountain of office work one step at a time or finding a way to divvy up or otherwise reduce the work, making an appointment for the doctor to check the lymph node, applying Preparation-H, and turning off the water pressure until the plumber arrives) and continuing the day.

Feces can come the way of even the most otherwise blessed and successful person, even at the least expected moment. How we deal with the feces helps define whether we will continue on the path of success with the feces being only a minor annoyance or temporary detour, or whether we are going to get so upset that we slip on the feces, break our leg, and swallow a bunch of feces in the process.

FDR was quoted as saying that Nicaraguan dictator Somoza “may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” That would have made Somoza a tenuous ally, and even an ill-chosen ally, but an ally nonetheless. We can find allies at every moment.

I love the war movie scene (I forget which one) where shortly after opposing armies are shooting each other’s soldiers to pieces, their commanders announce that they are no longer at war and are now allies, and all the soldiers engage in a hugfest. (That hugfest looks good, except for being left to wonder why the soldiers are not first attending to their wounded compatriots.) Even those who are our bitterest adversaries at one moment can become our allies the next, which I learned firsthand with a formidable civil litigation adversary who later co-represented a client with me, and subsequently had cases against me but this time with us being able to cut through the B.S. better in dealing with each other.

When we get angry and  upset, we get weakened. We can look at the opponent’s sword as a threat, or can consider possible ways to hide, disintegrate, destroy, or seize the opponent’s sword to use in our favor. Better yet, we can seek ways to find common ground with the opponent, when that will help us, while still keeping our proverbial sword and shield at the ready.

We will encounter people who will complain about their predicaments, and we all likely have made others on the receiving end of such complaints. We cannot allow them to drag us down in their negative, defeatist energy. Those complaining may be losing sight of the gold and other opportunities that are right in front of them.

The successful warrior recognizes the shitstorm that he may find himself in, and takes the bull by the horns to overcome that shitstorm, with clarity and strength, and never by cursing the shitstorm, lest that shit get propelled down his throat while complaining.