From politics to road rage, there are all kinds of wars, but do they all need to be fought? In this Tough Things First podcast, Ray Zinn discusses conflict in our homes, communities, and abroad and how to seek alternatives to fighting. (Click Here to Watch on YouTube!)
Rob Artigo: Welcome to the Tough Things First podcast, a special edition of the Tough Things First podcast. If you’re listening to the podcast somewhere, maybe even at toughthingsfirst.com, right next to this post on toughthingsfirst.com, under podcast, you can click on the, “Click here to watch,” button, and then you can watch the video instead of just listening. If that’s what you choose. Otherwise, just keep on listening. We’re glad to have you. As I said, this is the Tough Things First podcast. It’s your indispensable source for business, leadership and life advice, with the longest serving CEO in Silicon Valley. I’m Rob Artigo. And he’s the longest serving CEO, Ray Zinn. Hello again, Ray.
Ray Zinn: Hi, Rob. Good to see you today.
Rob Artigo: Great to be back, Ray, and it’s nice to be on video and it’s good to see you.
Ray Zinn: Well, welcome to everybody on video, if you’re watching.
Rob Artigo: Ray, there’s plenty of conflict in the world today, across the country and even in our own neighborhoods and our lives. We see this stuff everywhere. I mean, you see it on the news, but you also see it in neighborhoods and the way people interact with each other. I remember just the other day you told me that Julie, who works very closely with us, she suggested you write a little bit about wars because of the conflicts in the world and whether they were large and small, and they seemed to be ever present. And you took that opportunity to look at the larger picture of conflict, not just in where we see shooting wars going on, but the kinds of wars that we experience in our own personal lives. So tell me a little bit about where your thoughts came from. Give me some thoughts and we’ll go from there.
Ray Zinn: Well, we have wars going on even in politics. I mean between political parties, religious factions, and these wars stem from hatred. Hatred is the basis for these wars. And at the root of hatred is selfishness. So we want what we want when we want it, as opposed to looking at other people’s needs. What’s causing all of this turmoil, as you would, is just this evil feeling and hatred toward one another, whether it be in your neighborhood, whether it be in your school or in your religion, or what country you’re from. It makes no difference. This feeling of hatred just permeates this world, this very difficult world that we live in. As beautiful as it is, it’s still filled with a lot of animosity and distrust, one for another, and so there’s where the basis for this conflict is.
Rob Artigo: So I was looking at what you were writing about this and it seems the answer, according to what you write, is to quit thinking about what you want, but rather helping others with what they need, not what they want.
Ray Zinn: Exactly.
Rob Artigo: And you say, “As the saying goes, ‘Share and share alike.'” Talk about that a little bit.
Ray Zinn: It’s difficult to do though because we’re greedy. We are selfish. As little children, we cry and we scream when we don’t get what we want. We throw a tantrum. Basically, what’s happening around the world is everybody’s throwing a tantrum, whether it be a political faction or a country or a religious conflict. It just boils down to we throw a tantrum. Now, there’s one tantrum which is just crying or screaming. The other tantrum is when we actually start shelling each other with bombs and rockets and doing all sorts of terrible things to each other. Of course, that’s the extreme. So in order for us to get around that, to minimize that, we need to find a way to love one another. So loving one another, even loving your enemies, as you would, loving those who, “Despitefully use you,” as the Bible says, takes a lot of character.
You have to be the bigger person, the better person, the one that’s willing to step back and say, “Okay, these things too shall pass,” rather than just put up your dukes, as they say, put your dukes up and you’re going to, “Okay, we’re going to fight over this.” And so, it’s really boils down to stepping back and not engaging in the fight. It takes two to fight. One person can’t fight. It takes two people. Now, maybe you’ll fight within yourself. That’s okay, but don’t put up your dukes and start taking on someone else.
Rob Artigo: Yeah. I was thinking about the fact that since we have the ubiquitous cell phone and the video cameras and then viral videos, we see a lot of people just throwing tantrums in airports and in grocery stores and places where… Just because they feel like they were wronged in some way or they’re not getting things their way, they throw a tantrum and we get to see it. I suppose people used to throw tantrums before, but now it seems like we see it all the time on these viral videos. And like you said, it can be a tantrum where you end up with a shooting war, or it can be just that you’re going over and attacking the police station or you’re throwing a tantrum in the grocery store and throwing things around just because you didn’t get what you wanted or you didn’t get the discount you wanted, or somebody’s accusing you of shoplifting or something. And people, they just go bonkers, and again, like you said, it’s about grabbing what you want at the exclusion of everybody else.
Ray Zinn: Well, it’s like road rage. How many times have you… when you’re driving, somebody cuts you off or does something you didn’t like and you say, “You idiot, you jerk”? Of course, they don’t hear you. They can’t hear what you’re saying. You may put up your fist or you may give them the California salute, whatever. But still, you’re taking on this anger, this, “I don’t like you. I don’t respect you. I don’t think you’re a good person.” And we have to learn to respect all individuals irrespective of who they are. And so in that respect, you may have to just back off. You may have to just bite your tongue, as they say. My mother used to say, “Bite your tongue, son.” And then let it go. Conflict is not going to resolve anything. Even though you may think it does. I mean, sure, you’re going to say, “Okay, I’m going to get even,” but that’s not the way to resolve conflicts is to get even. You want to be the better person. If you don’t back off and take a different perspective on it, you might get hurt.
In other words, you may put up your dukes and you may find out that they dropped you instead of you dropping them, so be aware of how you feel toward others. That’s the key here, is be aware how you feel. If you feel angry, maybe you better not go out in public, or maybe you’re not engaged in a meeting or a phone call or going to the store. Sometimes we do feel upset. And when we feel upset, we should just go sit in a corner and until we cool off. As my mom used to tell me, “Ray, you go sit in a corner and face the wall,” as you would, “Until you cool off.” Or count to 10 or whatever… Whatever it takes for you to cool down, that’s what you should do. But conflict is not going to resolve anything. If anything, it actually causes more problems.
Rob Artigo: Do you think we get bogged down stressing about and worrying about the big global conflicts that we can’t do anything about, and less about the things that go on around us? And how does that impact our ability to make a difference in our local lives, in our families, in our own grocery stores, in our own communities?
Ray Zinn: Well, I meant we were talking about ourselves. We can’t act for others. In other words, you can only act for yourself. And so, I’m not expecting… If there’s global conflict, if somebody asks you for a comment, if you can’t comment nicely, if you can’t say something good, don’t say it at all. Just say, “Well, there are problems and conflict will exist.” They say, “Well, but how do you feel about that particular conflict?” You say, “Well, I’m not going to take sides. I just hope they can resolve it and we can move on.” So don’t engage in saying, “Oh, I’m for this company, or I’m for that football team, or I’m for that religion or that…” Don’t engage in a combat.
The purpose of this podcast is to convince you that you need to act for yourself. You can’t act for your neighbor. You can’t act for the country across the water or whatever. You can only act for yourself. And that’s the purpose of this podcast, is to get you to reflect on how you are. And if we will all start acting properly, respectfully, not using condescending or vulgar language, trying to bite our tongue, as my mother used to say, that’s the key to this podcast, is that you can act for yourself. You can’t act for others. So please, you be the bigger person. If it means you have to swallow, then take a big swallow. Back off, walk away, sit in a corner, count to 10, whatever you got to do. Don’t get involved in a conflict.
Rob Artigo: Yeah, you can pause for a second or a couple of seconds or 10 seconds before responding so you have a chance to reflect on what your next action or words will do and how that’ll play out.
Ray Zinn: We know people like Mother Teresa who’s got a… We never hear anything bad about her. We never hear about her losing her temper or whatever. All you hear is how kind and how gentle she was. I’m sure she was involved in conflict. I’m sure she had religious conflicts in her job and her function. And I’m sure there were wars going on during the time of Mother Teresa. So you can still be a kind… Or like Jesus was. He says, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Even though they were sitting there slaughtering him on the cross, he still said, “Forgive them.” And so, you be the bigger person. You be the one to forgive and forget. Forgive and forget.
Rob Artigo: From what I’m hearing from you, it sounds like avoiding war or conflict, to use those a little bit interchangeably here in this podcast, whether that’s personal or global, it’s about self-evaluation. It’s to figure out if your own motives may play a role in this, and to take a moment to figure out… How are you going to be the bigger person? It’s to figure out whether or not your motives are correct, I think. I mean, that’s what I’m getting out of it.
Ray Zinn: Yeah, don’t escalate. Don’t escalate. Just back away. You don’t have to be… take command. Well, except for yourself. Take command of yourself. Back away. Count to 10. Try to learn to be kind and understanding of others, even if you disagree with them.
Rob Artigo: Well, let’s wrap up just real quick. You’re talking about one aspect of this, which is when someone feels threatened, they become defensive. And that defensiveness can lead to animosity towards… I’m party A, and party B. I perceive party B as wronging me in some way. Maybe they’re going to build a strip mall right down the street from my house, and I didn’t know they were going to do that. Now I’m all upset. Or something’s changed in the law, now all of a sudden I have to pay or I have to remove a tree, or I have to do something. These things can say, “Oh, suddenly that other party becomes my little enemy in this conflict, and now I get defensive.” The defensiveness becomes another aspect of how we end up in a conflict that maybe could be avoided.
Ray Zinn: It’s that flight or fight syndrome. If you’re a prey animal, you’re not the aggressor. But once you get cornered, then it is fight. The flight, if you can flee. If you have to, if you’re cornered and you have no choice, then you fight, but fight nicely. Be nice in your combat, as you would, as long as you can protect yourself without having to get into a physical altercation. This fight or flight. Flee if you can. Fight if you must. But make sure you do it in a kind and respectful way.
Rob Artigo: I think that’s well said. And I don’t think we can improve on that at all, so I’m going to go ahead and close this out by thanking everyone for… If you’re watching the video, thank you very much for joining us on YouTube, with Ray Zinn, and watching the Tough Things First podcast, not just listening to it. And those of you who are listening, we appreciate that as well. This has been a special video edition of The Tough Things First podcast. As always, you could reach out to Ray Zinn with your questions at toughthingsfirst.com. Continue your education and the conversation with all the podcasts, blogs, and blinks, blinks, links to information about Ray’s books, Tough Things First and the Zen of Zinn series. I keep thinking about blinks. Well, one, two, and three is the Zen of Zinn series. Make sure you pick up those books. You won’t regret it. Thanks again, Ray. Awesome podcast.
Ray Zinn: I thank you, Rob.