You Don’t Have to Win to Win

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand,
and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied
the best of ourselves to the task at hand. ~Vince Lombardi


We live at a time when it seems there is no limit to the varieties of “truth” one might encounter as they travel the world. That said, we might not even have to leave our nuclear family unit to discover that there are vast differences between the way we see the world and the way those around us interpret it. One obvious example of that today can be found in the world of politics. The divide there seems to be over almost everything, and people on both sides can be extremely vociferous if not downright venomous if you disagree with them.

I want to express a truism that is worth remembering. When someone angers you, they control you! Think about that. We can become little puppets of someone else when we allow anyone to take control of our emotions.


I like to think of myself as an outcome oriented guy. That given, there have been instances where disagreements have reached such a pinnacle of frustration or anger that I have said things I truly regret. I wish I could take them back, but as we have learned, words said are arrows that have left the bow. You can only hope they miss the mark. When they don’t, apologies may help but they never remove the full sting. Undeniably obvious is the fact that at times like this, I have not been in control.

There is a practice in the Twelve Step program that deals with resignation or surrender. When you surrender, another no longer controls you. There are circumstances that I maintain where surrender in situations of disagreement is the best policy. Indeed, I think when you evaluate the long term outcome of many arguments, especially with friends and family but probably with all, the only way you can win the outcome you seek is to surrender. You don’t have to win to win. That is, if you seek a strong relationship with anyone, tearing it down with argument and anger will not make that happen.

I have a wonderful family that I love very much—just like so many of you. My family does not always agree with my political views. In the past we have had some bitter disagreements. What did I gain from that? The fact is, none of us have gained even if we “won” the argument.

Surrender Strategy

I have adopted the surrender strategy and you’d be amazed at the difference it has made. If you take the long view and seek to improve yourself and your life, moderate your emotions and wellbeing, control some of those brain chemical, optimize the operation of your autonomic nervous system, endocrine, and immune system, then you must realize that winning a nasty argument is really a loss.

This is true of many other areas in our life. Sometimes it is appropriate and necessary to speak up, but if speaking up begins to become one of those nasty engagements, it’s time to surrender. Why—because you will not truly win! Winning in these scenarios is impossible. Someone will be hurt and hurting another inflicts pain in many ways upon us. So speak up if necessary but let it go if it’s only going to go downhill. You are not likely to change any minds when nastiness enters the communication and if you do, what have you won?


Whenever you engage in anything, ask yourself what is the long view. What is my objective? Aim for the objective and let anything that would destroy the possibility of achieving that objective go. Surrender can therefore be a tactical way to strategically accomplish our long view.

For myself, I still present facts and information as I see it, but I refuse to allow someone else to trigger me. For after all, relationships can be as critical to our health and happiness as anything else.

My thoughts, what are yours?

Eldon Taylor

Eldon Taylor
Provocative Enlightenment
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusion