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Don's Blog: Stop banging your head against the wall

Stop Banging Your Head Against the Wall

When is it time to stop? Adjust? Correct? Adapt? Adopt? Compromise? Move on?


It depends what “it” is, of course. What are the stakes, the consequences, the pain we’re willing to endure, or the importance and meaning of succeeding.


I recall an acronym from a negotiation program I attended called BATNA – the best alternative to a negotiated agreement.


What is your BATNA? Do you have one, will you negotiate, or will you, as Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up”?


I am as sure as I’ve ever been that we all operate from a foundation of enlightened self-interest. The degree of enlightenment varies dramatically – Mother Teresa’s work was born from her self-interest of serving humanity in the service of God. Politicians, on the other hand, are somewhere in the middle – a blend of ego-driven self-interest and the interests of their constituents. And then there are the people who have but one interest: their own gratification and reward.


So, knowing when to stop banging your head against the wall is knowing what the wall of self-interest is made of. Is the wall a fortified one-foot-thick steel wall, a wall on wheels that can be moved; or is it really even a wall – can you go around it or just right through it?


Next time you are frustrated, angry, stuck, worn out or about to give in, ask yourself about the wall. Know your own self-interest and ask, is it worth the banging, will the banging move the wall, or is the wall really just in your mind?


I propose that we all stop banging and lift up our heads and listen – it’s not the answer, but it’s a start.