Are We a Team of Rivals, or Rivals to The Bitter End? (EP.217)

Team of Rivals


What are we doing? As individuals, as communities, a nation–and a world? 

“Never waste a good crisis.” is often quoted as an example of how the most cynical among us can take a disaster, and use it to advance their own careers–and to benefit those who share their political beliefs. Has anyone given thought about how we can use a crisis to everyone’s benefit?

This brings up today’s question: What are we doing with the corona crisis? Are we using it to advantage ourselves and to club our rivals over the head, or are we willing to dig in and find ways to use this crisis to make us better, stronger and more united than ever? Whichever goal we focus on is the one we will get. Whichever goal we feed. 

That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode. 


One of my favorite stories goes something like this:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life: “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”

Exactly: Whichever one we feed. The same fight is constantly going on inside me. And you. Moment to moment, day by day, and issue by issue, we must decide which wolf to feed. How are we using the COVID-19 issue? Which wolf are we feeding with this crisis? Are we simply taking sides, preaching what suits us and fits our overall view of the world, or are we in that all-too-small group that is trying to not only make sense of the data and apply non agenda-based thinking, but to use this–yes, use this–to understand each other and pull us all together? For now, it seems that we are not only being infected, getting sick, and in some cases, dying, but we are using the pandemic to belittle anyone who disagrees with us. On just about anything.

Which wolf are we feeding? N.B. We don’t get to say that we are not feeding either wolf, that we are only trying to be “right.” And, after all, doesn’t the world need at least someone to be right? 

No. The world does not need people to focus on being right. The world needs people to listen to each other, and to come together. My own personal story is filled with too many times that I have focused on being right rather than focusing on love. I lost the love when I was wrong, and I lost the love when I was right. It was not winning or losing that made the difference; it was the focus.

Which wolf was I feeding?

The “Team of Rivals” concept has been around at high levels in the US even since Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, were strong leaders who are well known for putting together teams of rivals to successfully navigate their country through deep crises; WWII for Roosevelt and Churchill, and the Civil War with Lincoln. These teams of rivals included not only those with very different political and financial thinking, but former bitter rivals–and even those who had held their offices before them.

Lincoln knew that he needed the help that would come from a strong cabinet, so he made the strategic decision to include his major Republican party rivals in his Cabinet: Salmon P. Chase as secretary of the treasury, William H. Seward as secretary of state, Edwin M. Stanton as secretary of war and Edward Bates as attorney general. Chase, Seward and Bates had been competitors for the GOP presidential nomination, and all of them, especially Chase and Seward, had a shockingly low regard for Lincoln’s abilities and promise.

Democrat Roosevelt’s cabinet included strong Republicans, notably Frank Knox, rival Republican Vice Presidential candidate in 1936–and the man who FDR picked to be his Secretary of Navy during WWII. Prime Minister Churchill went a step further by appointing the immediate former Prime Minister and head of the opposition party, Neville Chamberlain, to be his number two man. Lincoln, Roosevelt and Churchill picked the best people, regardless of political affiliation. Imagine that happening today.

No one can imagine anything like that happening today. Instead of using the talents of their rivals, our politicians are besmirching and belittling them. But aren’t many of us doing the same thing? Cancelling people because of their beliefs. Shunning family and former friends–on social media and in the real world–because of their political beliefs. 

Which wolf are we feeding?

The lack of testing kits is inexcusable, but the current Administration is blaming the previous Administration. Congress just engaged in a bitter–and embarrassing–fight over adding expensive projects to the desperately needed economic stimulus. 

Which wolf are they feeding?

Today’s key point: Focus on building your own Teams of Rivals in all areas of your life. Stop being right, stop making others wrong. Start–and stay with–focusing on which wolf we are feeding. In the corona days, and always. I am with you in that fight. Not always always winning, but winning a bit more over time. 


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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
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2 Responses

  1. Marsha Cook Reply

    The wolf that is being feed changes. Sometimes it changes moment to moment. Sometimes it changes because of who is in front of me. The wolf who wins is the one who gets fed the most and the choices I want to make in my life say to feed the good wolf more and the bad one just enough.
    Star Trek “The Enemy Within” is a good story about this inner fight.

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