Tuesday, February 20, 2007

lesson: cultivate good enemies

Living in the midwest for a while has taught me the value of building good relationships. It's also taught me the value of cultivating good enemies.

Good enemies:

1. Behave in a consistently unreasonable manner.

2. Have a narrow vision of what success is.

3. React to minimal sets of information and stimulus by creating maximum amounts of noise (preferably by email).

4. Don't admit failure or loss.

5. Gossip incessantly.

It's the last one that can cause you trouble, but with good allies and (more importantly) a good track record and (even more importantly) good reasons for doing what you've done, attributes 1-4 will offset the negative vibe caused by number 5. Ultimately, what they say will stop making any difference.

The challenge behind cultivating good enemies is to have good allies, and to never, ever go on the defensive. The second they see that you're bowing down to them, you're done. This is not to say that you should never admit it when you are wrong. Doing so in a forthright, reasonable way is a sign of maturity. Just make sure not to fail the same way twice.

Ultimately good enemies make you look good the same way good allies do, because you can be defined (in a kind of food-free Brillat-Savarin way) by the sort of people who stand against you almost as well as by the people who stand with you.

Time for some wine.


Anonymous said...

True. But, if the two of you are in the right field, that enemy could, concievably, be a friend. Then you just have to watch out for who your friends are.

bob said...

This comment makes my head hurt.

And kids, don't read a lot into this post. Sometimes I just write - to share ideas, to take a position, to see what happens. Because as you know, I have no enemies.