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May 31, 2012

How to Pick a Fight in a Global Recession. First instinct: "Don't".

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.

--Henry Kissinger, quoted in The New York Times Magazine, June 1, 1969

Answer: You choose them more carefully--and you go on the offensive only when you must. As Rome discovered too late, protecting every terrain and border is expensive and draining. As business and trial people learn young, butting heads with everyone who has ever done you a disservice, or fighting every point in an oral argument, or an evidentiary or discovery dispute, will not just be expensive and draining. It will defeat you. And it will make you go bonkers.

In an economic downturn, however, you have to be even more careful, and often plainly conservative, in reigning in your warrior ways. Put another way, and as a friend of mine likes to day, "allow yourself two or three creeps every day". Don't engage every jerk you meet. Don't right every wrong.

I've been told this my whole life. I hate it. It's a hard lesson--but merely part of the wages of being competitive and bellicose. For me, our old friend Henry, who turned 89 on May 27, said it in a way we can all remember it, and even plan a little.

No Worries, Bubala: Henry steps out with a Ms. Allison in 2011. We do like Henry.

Posted by JD Hull at May 31, 2012 11:59 PM


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