Friday, June 14, 2019

The Most Important Trip You May Ever Take


You know that it is easy to be an angel when nobody ruffles your feathers. But it seems that feather rufflers will always be around.

We’re told that 19th Century German statesman Prince Otto von Bismarck’s feathers were so ruffled by the criticism of a professor acquaintance of his, that he challenged the man to a duel. Protocol had it that the one challenged was to choose which kind of weapon was to be used in the duel.

The professor made a thoughtful choice… he proposed they duel with sausages. He sent word to Bismarck, along with a pair of sausages, that one sausage was safe to eat. The other had been poisoned with trichinae, which would cause a slow and lingering death, or at least long
invalidism. He informed the prince that he should pick which sausage to eat and said he’d eat the other one.

Bismarck reasoned that a man might die with some sort of honor on a dueling field, but never by food poisoning. He sent the message back, “His Highness has destroyed the sausages and asks that you be his guest at dinner this evening. After due consideration he feels he may have been slightly in error. He believes an agreement can be reached.”

It’s said that one of the most important trips a person ever takes is “to meet someone halfway.” Bismarck met his adversary halfway and neither man was poisoned that day.

When others ruffle our feathers, we always have a choice. We can meet them on the equivalent of a dueling field and slug it out with words, or worse. But escalating conflict almost always means there will be a winner and a loser.

Or we can take that trip to meet them halfway and iron out a compromise. It is rarely an easy trip to make, but it's worth it once we get there. And who knows, we might even find a solution to the conflict where both sides feel they are coming out ahead.

It’s your choice. And the choice you make will make all the difference.  

-- Steve Goodier

image: flickr.com/Rich Brooks