Friday, July 20, 2012

This is SO not Sparta!

We fight battles every day. Some we win. Some we lose. While winning (or losing) just one battle does not decide the outcome of the war, we must remember that the war is made of battles in the same way that a forest is made of trees.
Giant Squid from National Geographic

The every day battles - getting to the train on time, convincing the super-health conscious barista that you really do want caffeine in your sugar-free soy latte, finding a way to keep from getting even more overloaded at your day job - are important but not crucial. When the time comes to fight real battles, you will need to know which ones are worth the effort.

(Okay, I concede: sometimes the caffeine in that latte is crucial!)

Look at what is important and pick your battles. Yes, I know, it's a cliché. Generally, I try to stay the hell out of Cliché Valley: it is terribly boring since I've already done everything there is to do there.

This one, however, is important.

When Giant Squid perfect their SCOBA (Self-Contained Overwater Breathing Apparatus) devices and attack the land-dwellers with equally giant spears, you won't stand a chance if you rush into every battle that presents itself. Before forging ahead, scope out the situation and determine your chances.

I know Ancient warriors went into battle with the notion that dying in battle was glorious. And, in an odd sort of way (even with my modern day sensibilities), I can understand that. Giving one's life for The Good Fight is noble. However, if The Good Fight is saving human kind from complete decimation by eight legged poachers, giving one's life by rushing into a doomed battle is both stupid and counterproductive.

Ancient Greek Woman
Look at the Odds
How many of you are there against them? If the enemy has several times as many soldiers as you have survivors, the chances of a frontal assault actually achieving anything other than annihilating your group is pretty low. Take a step back and check out your other options. Maybe there is a backdoor you can utilize. Perhaps a flaw in their schedule could be exploited.

Look at Your Team
If you find yourself in battle shoulder-to-shoulder with a tactician, use her skills! You know how Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins? Ignoring someone else's superior skills in order to keep control will be an excellent example of why it's a Deadly Sin and not just a Really Not Nice Sin. Sometimes a little pride is a good thing. This is not one of those times.
Look at the Possible Outcomes
 Not to be negative, but if you attack and lose, what will happen to you and your women? Will you be slaughtered? Will you be taken prisoner and forced into slave labor? Will you be made to be concubines to the Giant Squid Overlord? Will you be rend to pieces by his beak? Decide before the battle if it is worth the possibility of loss.

If you win, be gracious in your victory and decide how the enemy will be treated. War is brutal. Don't let it steal your humanity.

Look at the Cause
We aren't looking at the reason for the war here: we are looking at the reason for the battle. Why exactly are you getting ready to storm the water castle? If your answer is any variation of "because I'm really pissed off" walk away. Hell, run away!

Fighting a battle out of anger is just plain stupid. Anger clouds judgment and causes poor decision making. There are way too many hormones and chemicals and synapses all vying for attention during the height of an emotional outburst to be able to think logically.

If you want to win the war, not just the battle, logic is requisite. Use it.

After looking at your options, armory (metaphorical as well as actual), and your motivation, make a decision and stick with it. If you decide to go into battle, go. Retreat if you must, but be aware that retreat may not be an option. If you choose not to go into battle, explain why to your group. Someone will disagree. Someone will want to fight out of anger or without thinking the situation through. Do your best to explain your decision and reasoning. If the dissenter wants to wage a battle on her own, determine whether that argument is a battle worth undertaking.

What other aspects of the battle should we examine before drawing our swords? Tell us in the comments!

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