Worst Enemy, Best Teacher : How to Survive and Thrive with Opponents, Competitors, and the People Who Drive You Crazy
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Both science and spirituality see the enemy as a teacher one who holds information critical to resolving common struggles. But learning from one’s enemies, especially in these polarized times, can be a profoundly difficult task. Worst Enemy, Best Teacher integrates spiritual, cultural, and scientific methods to transform adversarial relationships into powerful learning experiences. Here mediator and corporate trainer Deidre Combs expands on the revolutionary philosophy introduced in her first bookThe Way of Conflict. She suggests a cross-cultural elemental typing system earth, air, fire, water to identify and learn how best to approach the person or problem that plagues us most whether it’s a neighbor, a brother-in-law, a new boss, or the factory’s fiercest competitor. The book shows how to apply the wisdom gained from studying the opponent to any challenge, whether within one’s self, with friends or family, or between companies or nations, and offers ingenious tips and techniques for learning from the enemy and converting conflict into resolution.
past. For example, when a person is starving and needs to feed her family immediately, cutting down all the trees around her home makes sense. Simply put, wood = cash = food = existence. Later, when this resource is depleted, she might wonder why she made this terrible mistake. Yet despite the drastic nature of the solution, she has survived, testimony to the power and importance of this primal strategy. When the reptilian brain is driving us we rely on very basic strategies and lose sight of
with adversity and bring new calm into our homes, communities, and workplaces. We simply find we have more room for others and ourselves. Of course, it won’t always be easy. Opponents knock us down. As everyday warriors we will endeavor to get back up and use what we have learned to better ourselves and potentially the greater world. Israeli Robi Damelin and Palestinian Nadwa Sarandah bravely fight to break down stereotypes and bring peace to their region. Yet, in 2002 Robi lost her
fighting the feeling, I would make lists of what I wanted to do that day or think about the dream I had the night before. Then my thoughts would clear, and I would settle in. Soon I would notice the emotion and say to myself, “I’m miserable.” If I could just let myself feel the sadness or even the depression that appeared, it would transform. Day after day, I became more comfortable with letting myself be miserable, afraid, or depressed, and I got better at letting everyone else in the house be
destruction is rarely our best or only available response. We get stuck in a conflict when we believe it is irresolvable. When we fight with demonized enemies we might then see our only solution as “seek and destroy.” Since our world is intimately interconnected, the destruction of our enemies weakens our own position. By removing my opponent, I also lose access to his perspectives, resources, and solutions. We destroy cultures, ecosystems, and species in this way, and ultimately we compromise
carved with a human face to plead with the Beldy chief. “Talk will never restore our honor,” said Udoga. “You must pay a fine.” “Yes,” said Chubak. “Bring us a great, great gift.” The Zaksuli man, worried, asked, “For what are you asking?” Udoga said, “You must gift us, immediately, with a weasel skin and a kerchief to wipe away our shame!” Both sides were amazed and confused. The Zaksuli man hobbled home in joy to retrieve a weasel skin and cloth. The Beldy chief was furious. “What? A