The quote above is attributed to William Wrigley, Jr. and was, probably, used as adjusting feedback for a subordinate, who was being political rather than productive. Because we are, each, unique individuals, it is impossible to agree on everything, all of the time.
In fact, put two people in the same vicinity and there will be conflict.
Since disagreement, and the resultant creative friction, is a reality and the catalyst for change and discovery, how do we manage it?
Imagine a tranquil setting with a pond as its centerpiece. Overhead, the sun is radiant in a sea of blue and, all around this natural oasis, sounds of life saturate the freshness of the air. That’s the picture before placing two humans on opposite sides of the pond. Before long, one of them will begin throwing rocks.
Since the pond is large, there is no danger from the rock, itself. It is the ripple caused by the rock as it hits the water, which becomes the annoyance. In the course of life, we all make a ripple and leave a wake, behind every action we take.
The real question — How much control do we have over another person’s wake making? Simple answer — absolutely, none.
The only thing within our control is our ripple-making efforts — strength of arm, size of rock, number of rocks, purpose of throw, direction of target, style of delivery, and attitude of approach. We cannot stop another person from throwing rocks — yet, we can influence them by our example. Not by the words, we say — but, by our actions and results.
In the imaginary pond setting created in our mind, consider the possibility of one rock-thrower watching the other until a decision is made to approach with a proposition — let’s share thoughts and techniques for the mutual benefit of achieving synergy of effort and joy of growth.
Before long, the rock throwing morphs into more enterprising thought and effort, until … who knows what might be possible?!
The journey from opposite sides of the pond to frolicking in the companionship of accomplishment will require the patience of a Saint. In fact, it will require a point of reference and a frame of mind:
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
Easier said than done — because, when we find ourselves in conflict with another person, it is so much easier to see their faults and what they could do to improve our situation. The temptation is, even, strong to tell them what they should do.
At that moment, the time has come to remember the pond. The actions of another person and the resulting ripples of their choices are out of our control. Now, focus on what, individually, we have within our control and can choose to do —
Practice loyalty and kindness.