Oscar Wilde is known for, more so than almost anything else, his witty and snarky commentary on life and love. One of my favorite Wilde quotes is: “Never be too careful in the choice of your enemies”. At first you may chuckle, and think it’s cute but I want you to think about it for a while, let his words sink in; “the choice of your enemies”. No one reallythinks that they get to choose their enemies. Often times, your enemies seem to come about as inevitably as emotion, as anger or fear or even love. So now think about your enemies, think of why they became your enemies and when. Did you find that point in your relationship that you became enemies yet?
Wilde lends his genius to us to provoke thought beyond simple acceptance of having enemies. He almost calls us to be more aggressive or controlling in our lives to CHOOSE our enemies, it almost unheard of! Who are we to choose our enemies and why would anyone actually choose someone to be an enemy? Truth is, we NEED enemies, we need competition and comparison. But what Wilde is saying is to make a conscious choice in your enemies or your competition. I’m going to dive further into this in regards to office politics and relationships rather than competing businesses. I don’t think too many people are in the position to consider an entire business a competitor at this point in their lives.
Wilde is making two points, both in regards to choice. 1) having an enemy is a choice and 2) who that enemy is is also a choice. We could be friends with everyone in the office if we choose to; it’s not going to be easy and rather a lot of work but it’s always an option. In just the same way as how easy it is to be friends with someone in our office, its just as easy to be enemies, but both are a conscious choice! While it’s easy to be fiends with some people and enemies with others, if you consider the opposite, how difficult would it be to befriend enemies and rival friends? It’s a lot of hard work, but definitely worth it; making friends that is.
Wilde insists that having an enemy is a choice and he’d also be right to say that choosing an enemy as a whole, is a good choice. Consider someone like Superman. Would he be as super if he had no crime to fight or no evil enemies to apprehend? He’d just be a guy with super powers who’s a lot less busy than he is now. Enemies serve as a level of comparison, as a mirror or ruler to measure ourselves against. If your enemy has more sales than you, then that’s perfect incentive to sell more! Generally enemies, whether we choose this consciously or not, are close match in our own skill level, it’s only personality and motivation that differ. Superman’s enemy was set out to destroy/control the world, your enemy may be set out to simply make you look bad.
Either way, you must realize that having an enemy is a conscious choice. You can choose not to have an enemy just as you can choose who your enemy is . Be wise in your choice! In my next post I will outline some very important tips as to why choosing your enemy is important and how to go about dealing with one once you’ve made your choice.