Nothing spawns collaboration like a common enemy. Until Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a nationalist mentality was taking hold around the world. Countries were isolating themselves from the rest of the world by placing their interests ahead those of the global community. Within days of the invasion, thirty countries that are committed to democracy, aligned to take action against Putin and his advisors.
In a similar fashion, here in the U.S., we’ve seen more bipartisan bills passed recently than in the past several years. Having a common enemy shifts the focus from who’s winning and who’s losing the battle for power to how we can protect ourselves from an imminent threat.
It’s unfortunate that we have to have an external threat to regain this spirit of cooperation and collaboration. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can create “enemies” by shifting our focus onto mutually-desirable goals.
Here in the U.S. we could use the severe shortage of willing workers as an “enemy” of the lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed. Viewing the shortage as an enemy would help our congressional leaders focus on developing the labor pool with willing immigrant workers.
They could make it a priority to develop an immigration system that enables people with families who are willing to work to provide a better life for their families while filtering out those who would be a threat to our welfare…the drug dealers, criminals and freeloaders. This is especially important given the decades old history of declining birth rates here in the U.S. and in most developed countries around the world.
In a similar fashion, we could position ourselves to weather future pandemics and similar “enemies” to our way of life by developing earlier detection methods, earlier testing and better communication systems.
By creating our own “enemies,” we assure a spirit of collaboration and cooperation while focusing on ways of improving lifestyles for ourselves and future generations. It also helps us avoid falling into the trap of power struggles as well as the win/lose, scarcity mentalities that have plagued us recently.
As you see power struggles developing in your daily life, as you see people developing win/lose mentalities and scarcity mentalities, create a common enemy for the parties to tackle. There is always something that both want to accomplish that will serve as the common enemy that they both can rally against.
Using this simple approach, you’ll be amazed at how quickly they make the mental shift to collaboration and cooperation with the additional benefit of developing a mutually-respectful, mutually-beneficial long-term relationship.
For our kids
As you see kids’ conflicts become more protracted and evolving into win/lose mentalities, ask them “What’s the one thing that you can agree upon, that you both want to accomplish?” Over time they’ll develop the habit of asking themselves that question instead of allowing conflict to develop or exacerbate.
Teach them that it’s within their power to develop “enemies” that spawn collaboration and cooperation instead of waiting for some external event to create a real threat to them and the other parties to the conflict.
This simple approach can lead to a more peaceful and joyful existence for your kids.
Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.
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