choose your battles to win the war

How to Choose Your Battles to Win the War

shutterstock_125359070Whether you are a corporate manager or a parent, if you choose to lead, there will be times you feel as though you are in a war zone.  Every day there are many skirmishes that present themselves and you must decide which are worth fighting.

I raised two daughters. I remember battles fought over the girls keeping their rooms clean. Both daughters could have won a beauty contest, but they lived like pigs. The Governor of our state declared their bedrooms a disaster area. 

Once I tried to clean the rooms myself, but I heard “things” moving under the bed so I quit. I remember seeing mice and roaches running from the girls rooms with little suitcases yelling, “We can’t live like this any more.” Those two girls are now mothers with children of their own. Guess how there lives were impacted by those messy rooms?

Not one tiny bit!

No one ever turned into a serial killer because they lived in a messy room, but I spent an inordinate amount of time fighting this battle. As a husband, father, grandfather and leader of a corporate team, I look back and wish  I would have chosen my battles more carefully.

Here are some simple yet challenging guidelines that are helping me choose my battles more carefully.

1. Will this battle matter a year from now? A month from now? A year from now?  If not, it might be worth saving energy for a more important battle.

2. Is this battle keeping me from more important battles?   Finishing the project that the client needs at the end of the week.  Building relationships with the people in my life. Finding homes for the displaced rodents that once lived in my daughters’ rooms.

3. Is this battle about my feelings, my pride, or my ego?  Or is it about something that really matters?

4.  Will winning this battle cost me more than the victory is worth?  Sometimes an insignificant battle can be won at the cost of significant relationships.

5.  Does this battle threaten the most important things in my life?  If so, then fight with all your strength. Otherwise hold your fire.

Most of the time it is better to make love not war. The battles in our lives diminish significantly when we decide to be slow to anger, quick to listen, and willing to reason. As for me, I am saving my energy and ammunition for the important stuff.

Both my girls grew up to be drug free, responsible, loving women, with homes that are never perfectly immaculate but always cozy and filled with love. Rodents (gerbil) are not ashamed to live there, and their homes are places of refuge for a variety of squiggly puppies, loving friends and happy families.

My girls are living proof that if you live a lot and love a lot, you will create a bit of a mess not worth fighting over.

Choose your battles carefully today.

  • Know ahead of time what is worth fighting for.
  • When you have to fight, do it with all your might.
  • Whenever possible, seek peace.

If you want to fight with me over this, leave a comment. I will not return fire.
If you can add wisdom to the post, leave a comment.  I will be grateful


  1. Thank you for your wisdom, Ken! My daughter is pregnant and I Really needed to hear this! Wise wisdom!
    God bless you and your sweet family my friend.

  2. even though I never got married or had kids of my own I like the statement other people I know do with there kids about picking up their rooms and there toys and that is if things don’t get picked up by the time the alarm goes off in 5 minutes they are going to be hidden for a while or we will donate them to a organization that give kids toys that don’t have the privallages of have toys to play with that they can call their own.

  3. Such important advice, Ken! As I’m entering the last half of in-the-trench-parenting, I’m more and more realizing the importance of the carefully chosen battle. Sharing this with my fellow sojourners.

  4. Dust is not mold!!! (well I’ve tried to talk myself into that over and over again….still OCD)

  5. Thank you Ken for the great post. Wisdom is a long awaited trait for all adults, especially parents. I’m beginning to see your point of view with a 30 year old, also one 26 and 24. One thing to add might be too say to be sure of your passions before you go into battle. Your spouse may try to push you into a fight for something that really is not worth it in the long run. Don’t be afraid to be the “other half” and back it down when point number 4 is at stake.

  6. I’ve learned that if the battle isn’t worth fighting or if I’m too angry to deal with an issue worth the fight, but the other person wants the fight, walking away helps. I don’t even say anything, I just walk away. It’s very disarming. I think it’s wise to go back later to discuss the issue when the other person has cooled off (or when I’ve cooled off). I feel if I walk away from an important issue, then it’s my responsibility to go back to the other person to resolve the issue.

  7. It is so easy to get caught up in the battles before our eyes. It is also so easy to forget the battles in our hearts. The physical blinds us to the spiritual.

  8. Battles at professional and personal front make you what you are today!! Experience from your previous battles are good enough lesson for you to act or react.

    What about those battles or Cold war happening around you!!

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