“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.”
– Romans 12:20
Do you hate to lose as much as I do? To many I may appear to be a pretty laid-back guy, but deep down I’m actually fiercely competitive. Even playing cards and dominoes with my family I’m often accused of being an obnoxious winner and a pouty loser. I hate to lose! But there are actually times when losing creates a competitive advantage and leads to strategic advancement. Consider, for instance, in baseball what is commonly known as a “sacrifice” where the batter gives up an out in order to advance one or more runners who are on base, a loss for the batter, but a strategic advancement for the team.
There’s a hilarious scene in the movie “Maverick” where Maverick (played by Mel Gibson) walks into a saloon and convinces a group of strangers to allow him to join their poker game by promising to lose for the first hour. Sure enough, for an hour he meticulously loses every hand by throwing away good cards, folding potentially winning hands, and raising bets on bad ones. But at the end of the hour the table turns, you might say, and he begins to rake in the chips. By losing, you see, he had lulled his opponents into thinking he didn’t know what he was doing, a strategy that cost him a few bucks up front, but by the end of the night had him sitting on a pile of money.
During my corporate career it drove my staff crazy when at times I would cave in on minor disputes that arose with customers or counterparts in the firm. “Why did you give in on that?” they would accuse, “We were right!” Indeed, most of the time we WERE right, but it didn’t matter, for in considering the circumstances I generally concluded that the good will created by forfeiting often far outweighed the ill will it would cause by going to the mat to prove a point. And over the long haul I’m convinced it paid off in building a stellar reputation, market share growth, business volume and profitability.
As someone once pointed out, the best way to get rid of enemies is to turn them into friends. The Apostle Paul would agree, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.”