This is part 1 of 4 in our Enter the Arena series.
Congratulations! You are officially a warrior-in-training.
Surprised? Not what you signed up for? Conflict is bad? You aren’t ready yet? Tough luck, recruit.
Welcome to the Arena.
The Arena is where we go when we take a stand and make a lasting personal change or transformation in our lives. It is inevitable - a bundled deal with our commitment to change.
Because change and conflict go hand in hand. We can’t make way for something new without encountering resistance along the way. If we didn’t, there wouldn’t be change at all.
Sometimes this conflict is within ourselves – a challenge to make the decision that’s best for us when we are tempted to go back to the “before times.”
In other situations that conflict is external – with coworkers, friends, family members, bosses, and more – as you make the change and the shifts in your time, attention, and attitude ripple out.
Regardless, you can’t control others and how they might react nor can you force the change you want to see upon others. But you can observe the situation you are in and then choose the role you want to play to make the change you want to see. You can choose what type of fighter you want to be when you enter the arena and pick your battles wisely. Focus on the big picture, not the temptations to fight for the sake of fighting.
Conflict is a challenging headwind - it will test you and push back as you try to make your advance. You can always surrender to it, sure. But do you really want to end up back where you started?
This is where the misunderstanding of conflict enters - we think it is there to inhibit us through intimidation, violence, and animosity. We believe that conflict is something to be avoided.
Conflict can be the most affirming and generative force in the world.
Typically, when emotions run high and the battle is intense, there are four responses to conflict:
Fight: You engage directly with the conflict until it is resolved.
Flight: You disengage from conflict to either avoid it or find a more desirable situation or environment.
Freeze: You shut down or deactivate. Speech or taking action is difficult in the moment.
Fawn or Appease: You de-escalate or mediate conflict through personal appeals or attempts to repair mid-conflict.
We aren’t suggesting that you go out and pick fights to create conflict. Instead, flip the script. Conflict will highlight what is important for you to fight for. It shows you who has your back and is willing to support you. It shows you your blind spots and your weaknesses. It unearths assumptions you’ve made and those of others and brings them into the arena too.
After a conflict, you might lose (today), you might win (today), or you might agree to disagree (today). The part that matters most is that you entered the Arena anyway. You chose to make a change and to fight for it. There is nothing more heroic than that.
So now the question remains, what kind of warrior will you be?
Will you be the champion defending yourself and others on the frontlines?
Will you be the distant sharpshooter waiting for the perfect shot?
Will you be the disciplined monk poised and ready?
Will you be the adventurous ranger adapting to the situation?
Will you be the tactician focusing on the big picture and rallying others to the field?
Time will tell. But the training starts now.
Autumn & Jerod