I‘m not interested in making this blog political -– there are plenty of other online forums for that — but my job is to write about what I see and right now it’s hard not to see that the United States has men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So here’s a just couple of observations as to what we can learn from our current situation in the Middle East
The Bush administration is pushing for a troop surge so that we can give ourselves “the proper chance to win” and “achieve victory.” That’s what the rhetoric I hear and read about. But does anyone know what winning in Iraq means anymore? I hear politicians using these words to justify their actions, but I’ve lost the thread of the current definition of winning.
At first, I remember Mr. Bush told me that winning meant removing Saddam and his nuclear arsenal. Next, I remember hearing how winning was about establishing a democracy in Iraq. Rolled up in these was the idea that winning meant defeating the “global terrorist threat,” Al Qaeda, and Islamo-fascists.
These days, with the multi-layered mass chaos permeating Iraq, I do not hear anyone with a clear-cut definition of what that intention of winning really means.
(Of course, it’s entirely possible that I am missing something here. If you’ve heard the answer to the question “How the US wins in Iraq” and can distill that to one sentence, please share with me in the comments below.)
In order to win any game, you must know the rules of how to win, right? In football, when the clock runs out, the team with the most points wins. In Monopoly, the last player with a bankroll takes the cake. In a war of days gone by, the object was to get the other country to surrender or come to terms.
Playing the game of war (where “game” is defined as “an activity with some rules engaged in for an outcome”) without a crystal-clear definition of the desired outcome leads to problems. Huge problems.
When asked how the United States was faring in Iraq, Mr. Bush recently revealed how fuzzy the current metric for success in Iraq is with his reply: “We’re not winning, we’re not losing." (President Bush in an interview with The Washington Post on12/19/2006.)
Until the United States has a clear definition of what it means to win, I do not expect to see things improve in Iraq, no matter how many troops go into harm’s way. I pray that Mr. Bush comes to this awareness.
For anyone interesting in growing and evolving to a better life, it’s critical to have a personal definition of what it means for you to “win” in life.
Do you have a clear metric to measure your quality of life?
Of the people who do, very often this metric has to do with money or something outside of themselves. In my experience, external measuring sticks do not work nearly as well as internal ones. In getting to know a new client, I ask them to respond to this question: "I know how successful I am being by how ______ I feel.
Having read hundreds of responses to that question, I can tell you when you boil down all the answers I’ve received to their essence, the common thread is that people wish to feel free in their lives. *
So what does freedom mean? Of course this is a subjective question, but a personal definition of freedom would be that I feel I am doing what I choose, where I choose, when I choose, and with whom I choose.
I find that the external metrics like money and possessions are the natural by-products that reflect how closely I adhere to my personal freedom path.
Choosing that which feels free always feels best to me. But that does not mean that those choices are always the easiest ones to make. Often it’s quite the contrary; choosing the path that makes us feel free collides with our greatest fears.
However, having this personal barometer of what it means for me to win serves as the ultimate tool to ground me and send me in the direction of inspiration.
At any given moment, I can stop and reflect how free I feel. In that moment, if I notice that I feel like I’m operating from a place that does not reflect my desire, I know I need to make a change in my life.
Consciously choosing the best feeling (even when it defies my logical mind), I have found that my life just gets better and better and better. Feeling free attracts more freedom. Winning attracts more winning.
Above all else, you need to know what it means to win before you can play to win.
*(Ironically, I realize this was an original definition of why we went into Iraq – to free the Iraqi people from Saddam’s tyranny and be “greeted as liberators.” However, I don’t hear that as a definition of winning anymore.)
P.S. In his State of the Union speech this year, Mr. Bush warned that the United States "must not fail in Iraq."
If any one reading this has his ear, please see if he’s willing to learn how to create a proper intention.