This quote is from an unknown author. He or she must have known a thing or two about the futility of engaging in every single discussion that comes your way. The quote is also a proxy for ‘pick your battles’. There are battles worth fighting and battles that are not. It may also serve as a reflection on what leaders choose to do.
In organizational life, people are often pulled in too many directions, where ‘signal’ and ‘noise’ get confused all the time. Big things get mixed up with small things. The important gets confused with the urgent. The strategic and the tactical become mixed up. All things become equally important, equally relevant, equally necessitating a response, to have a say, to send an ‘I agree’ message.
I am not fond of the word ‘prioritization’. Not that I don’t believe in the need to prioritize, but I have little faith in our standard ways of doing this. For leaders, a better angle is ‘What will make the difference?’ Or better, ‘What can I personally do that will make the difference, and perhaps only I can do?’
We need to switch from spending our time on ‘managing the inevitable’, to leading what will not happen unless we lead it. In this quest, you, as leader, don’t have to attend to every argument to which you are invited, you don’t have to get involved in everything, and certainly, you don not have to spend your time fighting every battle.
The magic word is choice. Choices are always in front of you.