Jul 13, 2017 Lessons on winning and dealing with loss, from taijiquan & non-duality
Taijiquan and non-duality are good sources for motivating winning and not letting loss debilitate a person from turning around the situation into a win and from gaining subsequent victories.
In high school health class one day, the teacher had us play an indoor horseshoe game. Higher points were awarded for hitting the target from farther away. Many of the students focused their efforts on farther distances. At the end of the game, the teacher aptly pointed out that many people might aim from the farther point not as much to seek to obtain a higher point than to not be embarrassed about missing the target from a closer distance. This same teacher coached a successful volleyball team, and underlined his great admiration of winners. Winners are not the ones who stand on the periphery of battle; they go wherever is necessary for the battle.
What is a winner, then? Only a perfectionist does not choose his or her battles wisely, and how much time and other resources to invest in each battle. Sun Tzu helped define the winner in The Art of War, advising how less well-equipped and smaller armies can still overcome their adversaries, and how the better-equipped and larger armies can make the most of those advantages.
Sun Tzu warned against getting bogged down into protracted warfare, a lesson not heeded by the United States in the Vietnam War, nor in the post-September 11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. North Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh is said to have followed Sun Tzu, where his fighters were masters of brutality and likely scaring the sh*t out of American soldiers with booby traps and bouncing Betties. (Of course, too many American soldiers committed the foulest atrocities in Vietnam, as well.) Whether intended or not by Ho Chi Minh, public opinion in the United States increasingly turned against the Vietnam war, thus helping to demoralize and despirit the American soldiers.
On the flip side, the North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong felt the urgency of defending against attacks by Americans in and near their own towns and villages. They had the homecourt advantage of being comfortable in the constant tropical heat, downpours, and biting insect infestations. On the other side were plenty of American soldiers who had never before been more than a few states away their hometowns let alone out of the country (with a slew of more financially and socially privileged Americans avoiding the draft through educational deferments), weighted down by the weaponry they carried as the Viet Cong traveled lightly on and above the ground and in narrow tunnels.
I do not approve of any of the atrocities by either side in Vietnam, and have never liked communism. At the same time, warfare is a great lesson for criminal defense lawyers and other trial lawyers, including:
– Enter the battlefield fully prepared, never hesitating to go to battle nor to continue in the battle.
– Summon the power of fearlessness.
– The goal of the fight is to harmonize the client’s imbalanced situation of being prosecuted. The criminal defense lawyer has no business going into courtroom battle if not willing to inflict the necessary escalating levels of damage on the prosecution and opposing witnesses in the process of obtaining as much victory as possible.
– Do not allow losses to debilitate the lawyer, but instead carry forth and learn from the losses, including how not to repeat them and how to be strengthened from them. Michael Jordan expresses that principle well in his Nike ad about turning losses into victories.
– Shed the ego-driven aspect of crying over one’s losses and wounds. Particularly we recognize our own lives as interconnected with everyone else’s, we know that loss is a daily part of life, including death, where death is not a function of failure but of nature.
Those who have winning experiences with fistfights, boxing, wrestling, football or other activities involving those levels of physical battle can translate those experiences well into the courthouse battlefield, not looking to the judge nor anyone else other than their own side for help in the battle for their client.
The practice of taijiquan is a great lesson for going to battle. Except for the greatest taijiquan masters, other better fighters always exist. My only choice when facing a fighter with an advantage over me is to learn the lessons of their own strengths and abilities, and to move on. When I lose against an opponent who would seem to be less accomplished than me, that reminds me never to underestimate my opponent, recognize my strengths and weaknesses and how I can do better at all times, and always to powerfully relax with each attack and defense.
Taijiquan also teaches about investing in loss, but that investment is about temporary loss, to return with winning strength.
The focus of every criminal defense effort must be for as much victory as possible. The battles can often get proverbially bloody, hairy, and downright unfair. When a criminal defense lawyer embraces the rough and tumble of battle and the necessity of skillfully planning and strategizing to win, s/he is closer to victory.
Fairfax, Northern Virginia criminal defense lawyer Jon Katz has been battling successfully for thousands of criminal defense clients since 1991. For a confidential consultation about your case, please call Jon’s staff at 703-383-1100.