Bill Cottringer

“Conflicts give rise to villains, heroes, victims and bystanders. Which are you willing to be, in doing or dying for? ~The Author.

We are all chasing after things we think we want because of how they make us feel—happiness, success, peace of mind, love, truth, wisdom, money, power, recognition, spiritual wholeness, meaningful work, great relationships, purpose in life and the litany of our other imaginary goals. This is the common denominator of all of humanity. How we pursue these things and how much we get of them, is where our individual differences appear; and then come all the challenges to overcome the resulting problems and obstacles of these differences.

Long term success in our pursuits seems to follow a common path with these seven evolving realities that influence our lives in very big ways, often re-arranging our landscapes completely.

1. The person who is most open and humble to learning, growing and improving in seeing the most accurate and complete big picture of reality and dealing with it as it is, always gets the biggest prize worth the most over the long haul at the finish line. Pride in achievement and ownership of thinking you are seeing this big picture is what always gets in the way of really seeing it.

2. The common enemy of success is conflict. Conflicts are the best teachers to progress in understanding this first reality. We are all confronted with three varieties of conflicts—us vs. life, us vs. them, and us vs. ourselves. Conflicts can range from minor disagreements in how to fix a small problem at work or in a relationship, all the way to conflicts that shake your soul about what is true or threaten your being as to what values you believe in and are willing to do or die for. Fortunately we get a lot of practice resolving smaller conflicts in preparation for the big one; but, the big one keeps coming back with more vengeance each time until we get it right. It will simply not go away on its own.

3. The only way to resolve any conflict is to get to the best perspective to see the most accurate and complete big picture, including a good understanding of the core problems going on that fuel the conflict. The best perspective in anything is one of balance in the middle of two half-truths, which are always just two different sides to the same coin. Hence, the need to reconcile all the opposites that appear to be at odds with one another, which is a monumental challenge.

And, here is the biggest reconciliation challenge: There are just two main “teams” in life. One side leans towards trusting life and having hope and optimism that it is taking us to a better place tomorrow, no matter what the pain and suffering is today. The other side distrusts life and has cynicism and pessimism about things getting worse instead of better, and if something can go wrong it will. Common sense tells us the safest position is somewhere in between these viewpoints—to hope for the best because you usually get what you expect, but at the same time, to always have plan B to fall back on in case things don’t quite work out as expected, because they always won’t.

4. Getting to the right perspective on a conflict and seeing the core problems and differences that drive it, requires the best of communication in order to plow through the waiting mine fields without getting blown-up in the process. The trouble here is that we can only communicate in words that often cause more misunderstanding and disagreement, because of the different realities the word definitions and connotations have created in our minds. The dualism of splitting the whole world into this or that opposites is not the way things really are, but rather as we have created them to be in our minds. This has to stop or we are stuck with perpetual, unsolvable conflicts.

5. The irony of this journey is that it is our words that created false realities that end up in major conflicts which lead us to the do or die dictum; but we have to use these same words to get through to the other side of the conflicts that constantly confront us. So once again, we are back to trying to maneuver to the best perspective, which is always the middle position of balance. This may require using words that don’t reinforce opposite positions, but more towards neutral grounds. That is always the benefit of having a third party arbitrator in disputes.

6. Choosing the right words to get through the conflict is the first part of the hard work ahead. This leads to a humble, open mind which throws away all your security blankets and concludes that all you think you know for sure and are willing to do or die for, may not necessarily be so, at least in the way you think it does from a perspective that isn’t a balanced one. This is because your big picture, as big as it may be, is more of a half-truth clinging to an artificial opposite created by words and thinking, which has to change.

7. The soul-shaking, un-nerving, fundamental truth and value conflicts are the do or die ones that determine the quality of our prize at the finish line. And the only way through these major conflicts, which a friend likened to being like boulders rolling of a cliff, is to have the sense to run, duck and cover and not stay with our arms wrapped around our precious truths and values, shouting at the boulder to “stop” because “this shouldn’t be happening” and “can’t be allowed to.” There is a safe place to be in these unnerving circumstances and that is being willing to compromise somewhere in between in joining life’s ongoing creative progress, which has gotten us here and will assure we get there, with the right effort and good timing.

There is a very good chance that this creative process occurs on its very own and that our puny interventions to speed it along or change its course are just a delaying tactic of the inevitable. It may make most sense to lean towards letting go to this natural process in life, with a backup plan of doing something small to contribute to the outcome that is best for all.

“The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed. It is just these intense conflicts and their conflagration which are needed to produce valuable and lasting results.” ~Carl Jung.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or