What battle to choose?

About 10 years ago a senior leader advised me to choose my battles carefully. She asked me which project I felt most energy for and which one I thought I was more likely to win – or where I would get a favourable result. At the time I felt energy for all three projects I was working on, and I felt them equally important and that they would make an impact in the workplace. I still made a choice, as intellectually I knew she was right, even though emotionally I wanted to go full speed on all of them.

Her words stuck with me, and I have considered this dilemma many times since. One battle I realized I couldn’t win was to ‘make’ women around me care more about equal rights or sexist treatment. It’s not my country and it seems I rather annoy people than actually have a real impact. So, I chose to steer clear of that battle.

In this world there are many situations that are unfair and even evil. If you want to engage yourself in choicesbigger causes, or charity, there are thousands of cases where you can help and create an impact; homeless people, any kind of equal rights (women, gay, race/ethnicity, disability, age), child prostitution, poverty, child marriage, helping refugees, integrating immigrants, animal welfare (bad treatment in any way – there are a zillion options), fighting the weapon industry, fighting injustice in the legal system, getting the kidnapped Chibok girls in Nigeria back, helping young men to avoid radicalization, support for recovering addicts (whatever addition), make children in hospital laugh… Well, you see what I mean, this was just at the top of my head, there are incredibly many more areas where one can contribute.

As a single human being, who we all are, it can all feel really overwhelming. What to do? Where to help? Does it matter if I try to help? Where could I make a difference? It’s like a huge mountain and it’s easy to think that ‘I’m just one person, it doesn’t count, I don’t have real impact’.

I think we all know that one single person can contribute, even if it’s just one little thing that matters to one person. But which battle to choose? Where can I have the most impact?

Personally, I have a ‘kindness deal’ with myself. Wherever/whenever I can do something nice for a person or an animal, I will do it. Drive an elderly person to the supermarket when I see them walking with difficulty on the street. Give a card and a chocolate to someone I think does a good job, or seem to be lonely. Give a compliment to a stranger. This morning I gave my dog’s bed to a dog that was freezing outside (his owner told me ‘we take very well care of our dog’ at the same time as the dog was scratching his skin that had no more fur due to skin disease). Or I give money to certain charities. I do feel overwhelmed at times of this world’s suffering, but I want to contribute by doing a little something – within my sphere of control and the battles I am able to fight. Being kind to animals appears to give me a ‘weirdness reputation’ locally, but I can live with that.

What about you, what battles do you choose to fight – or where do you want to make an impact – big or small – , at work, in private, in society?


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