Rule number one: direct your energy where it is most likely to make a positive difference
Rule number two: when you feel like you are beating your head against a brick wall, refer to rule number one.
Rules one and two are one version of 'advice' I have often resorted to in my work with people over the years and in my personal life. It wasn't always well received and I was somewhat puzzled as to why - after all it seemed pretty logical to me. It was in my work with an executive coach years ago that the light bulb finally clicked on, she mentioned one day that I often don't say out loud everything pertinent to a topic, almost as if I am assuming that the other person is filling in the blanks themselves. She noted that I often defended others who do some ranting by pointing out that people often need to vent, be heard and calm down before they can move on to constructive action or problem solving. Yet when I blithely hand out rule number one and two, I just might be forgetting to mention the venting requirement. This leaves some people who receive this message with the impression that I don't understand just how overwhelming the problem they have feels to them. Years later I still have to remind myself to complete my thoughts out loud as the Vulcan mind meld has yet to assert itself.
The rather divisive nature of the political discussion in this country in the past 7 years brought another aspect of rule numbers one and two alive for me-some people are firmly hanging onto their opinions and are not open to discussion-they state in a very directive manner that their version of the ways things are is correct and not open for discussion. In this case rule number one and two stand alone-there is little to be gained from trying to engage in discussion on that topic with people who have made up their minds-you can however continue to direct your energy where it is most likely to make a difference. We have limited personal energy and resources-it makes sense to use them wisely.
Do you have 'rules' about how you spend your personal energy? Do you have any anecdotes about when sticking to your 'rules' made a positive difference? I would love to hear your stories.