5. Fight for Pretty Things, Not Petty Things – 21 Success Sutras for Leaders

Chapter Five

Fight for Pretty Things, Not Petty Things

Don’t fight a battle if you don’t gain anything by winning.


Erwin Rommel

Before waging battles, ancient kings counted the cost in terms of time, resources and casualties. If they found that the battle was worth it, they would go ahead, else they would let it drop. Alexander the Great was a master strategist who weighed all options before conquering. He made everything possible 2,300 years ago; with his visionary leadership, he minimized the casualties of his soldiers and maximized the casualties of his opponents. He had the end fixed in his mind and moved forward by looking at the strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, leaders always look at both pros and cons while making decisions, and move forward only when they feel that the pros outnumber the cons. Currently, CEOs and senior leaders within organizations adopt the same strategy while beating the competition. Similarly, recruiters within the organizations look at the costs involved in hiring candidates, and recruit only if they find that the candidate is worth it. Whether you are a leader or a follower, you must count the costs first to avoid hassles and regrets later.

Leaders and Managers

Sometimes it is felt that managers indulge in firefighting and waste their precious time, while leaders avoid doing so and concentrate solely on the end. In fact, managers often firelight on petty issues without considering the time and resources involved. In contrast, leaders look below the surface with an in-depth view. And if they find it a waste of time, they shift their gears and move on to bigger and broader goals. Put precisely, managers fight for petty issues while the leaders fight for pretty issues.

Leaders are Navigators

Good leaders are visionaries and chart their course of action by looking at the availability of resources. They take in inputs from all sources and unfurl their ideas at the end. They count the costs before taking up the battles. If it is worth it, they fight, otherwise they give up. They know when to enter and when to exit. Good leaders are great navigators with an end in mind.

Petty vs. Pretty Things

Fight for pretty things, not petty things as fighting often over petty things diverts your mind and wastes your precious time. When you fight over petty issues, you lose sight of the pretty opportunities. Don’t indulge in too much fighting as you will be branded a fighter, which will send wrong signals to the others. However, in exceptional cases, fight for small issues and do not mind losing, as you need to lose a battle to win a war.

Usually people waste a lot of time in fighting over petty issues. At times they think about the past that cannot be changed. They must know what to fight for and what to let go so that they can grow successfully in their lives. Always focus on the pretty issues. Ensure that petty issues do not divert your mind from progress. Realize that we have only one life, and give the best that you can to others.

Life is very short. There is no point in fighting over petty things. It does make sense, though, when one fights for pretty things. Relationships are more important than anything else. Hence, don’t fight for petty issues and always count the costs before you endeavour.

Leadership is not an easy process. It involves a lot of struggles and sacrifices. It involves both bouquets and brickbats, and at times it involves more brickbats than bouquets. Hence, make your decision wisely to minimize the wastage of precious time, energy and resources, in terms of money, men, materials and machines.