Tilting at Windmills – Choose Your Battles Wisely

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This expression comes from Cervantes’ novel about the ageing gentleman-dreamer Don Quixote. It is a parable about folly, delusion, morality and outdated ideals in a changing world (and more).

It carries many messages, but the tilting bit is a reminder that we should perhaps take counsel or check our facts before entering battle. When Quixote came upon a row of windmills and took them for giants, ignoring all advice he took aim and charged at them. Needless to say, the windmills didn’t come off badly in the joust.

“Choose your battles wisely” is sound advice, but before choosing, ask yourself if there needs to be a ‘battle’ at all,

It is all too easy to get locked into unnecessary conflict. Have you ever found yourself fighting a battle you never wanted to be part of, or involved in an argument about something which really wasn’t important enough to fight over? At times like that, it’s important to step back, to create the space to change your thinking.

The moral of the tale

Cervantes’ novel is a reminder that the judgements we make can be quixotic even they seem persuasive. In the book, the valiant knight’s faithful servant, Sancho Panza, provides down-to-earth cautionary advice. But, as with our own habits when we are ready for battle, Quixote prefers to ignore advice and charge ahead anyway.

The moral of the tale is that all views should be considered, no matter where (or who) they come from. When we are swept up in a mission – whether of our own making or handed down to us by tradition or popular belief –  we should surely check our beliefs before acting. It’s always possible to change your thinking, but only if we take a moment’s pause.

“Choose your battles wisely” is sound advice, but before choosing, ask yourself if there needs to be a ‘battle’ at all, and even if there is, is it yours to fight?

 

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