Concessions Aren’t As Glorious As Victories

Shimon Peres died this week. He was 93. He was an Israeli statesman, having served twice as prime minister, and a plethora of other influential positions.

One of the news broadcasts that I saw announcing his death was from ten years ago, an interview with CBC News. It was mostly accolades and appreciations. I imagine the man’s life was complex, a mix of being revered and reviled that comes naturally with such position.

In the interview Peres said something that immediately caught my attention. He spoke it slowly, genuinely. “Concessions are not so glorious as victories. But without compromise, you can’t have peace.” I know, good, right. And I know, really spoken in the context of Palestinian / Israeli peace negotiations.

But, so much of contemporary society continues to fixate on victory. Winning. Getting one’s way. Dominating. Controlling. The deeper shadow includes bullying. In the general psyche, it’s not so sexy to not get your way. Yes, American presidential politics comes to mind — lots of bad behavior from what I would call unchecked ego and systemic delusion. But I see this in many places (including, at times, in myself). In teams. In project leadership. In complex situations that begin to run amuck. In community organizations.

Sometimes, to state the obvious, winning is losing. Sometimes it takes hearing it, eulogized in a way, from a recently passed elder states person to recognize how much it is in play in all of us.

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