Winning the Battles and Losing the War



Conviction–standing up for what you believe to be correct is probably one of the most easily over-used strengths among technical experts. Confidence in our deep knowledge and experience is likely a large component of success. The head-to-head logic-based debate with our peers in of itself gives a feeling of triumph. Add to that a few times that when our point of view leads to success, and we become addicted to winning the battle. But soon the battle victories don’t add up. That is because the battle becomes about us and not the organization. We lose site of the purpose and will sacrifice as many of our own or the “enemy” as possible.

The following checklist from Muriel Maignan Wilkins of Paravis Partners provides a list of key indicators that we are over-using our strength of conviction:

  • We keep at an idea or plan, or insist on making your point, even when we know you’re wrong.
  • We do something we want to do even if no one else wants to do it.
  • When others present an idea, we tend to point out all the reasons it won’t work.
  • We visibly feel anger, frustration, and impatience when others try to persuade us of something we don’t agree with.
  • We agree to or commit halfheartedly to others’ requests, when we know all along that we’re going to do something entirely different.

The next time that feeling of conviction, stubbornness, opinion or inflexibility overcomes you, recall that, yes, your expertise and willingness to stand up for what you believe is what the company is paying you for, but use that strength wisely and decide if its for the good of the company or for our own good.

Jonathan Shaver