Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Are You a Greek or a Roman?

300 Spartans

I heard an intriguing comparison between the Greeks and the Romans. The Romans copied many ideas from the Greeks but the Roman Empire survived much longer than the Greek Empire. Perhaps the Romans learned from the Greek successes as well as their mistakes

The Greeks believed that it was honorable to die in battle. It meant that regardless of the conditions they must stand on the battle field and fight until they won or died.

The Romans wanted to win the war. That meant if they weren’t winning this battle they would withdraw, rethink and fight again another day.

Which are you and which would you rather be?

Perhaps you know some Greeks. They believe that they should honor their word at all costs. Being true to your word is a good thing. But what if you gave your promise while lacking important information, under duress or in a state of heightened emotion?

Many of us have made dumb promises. The most common one is “until death do us part”. Those promises were made in good faith at the time but things change. It’s not just marriage that can be a bad promise. There are many other promises that we make throughout life that might need to be revisited.

You can think like a Greek and stand fighting to death until one of you dies. Or you can be a Roman, retreat, rethink and fight a different battle. The Romans weren’t cowards. They were good strategists.

Sometimes we make impossible promises to a boss, customer or employee. We simply need to revisit reality, deal with the disappointment and move on. Some battles you can’t win today.

PS: This post isn’t meant to disparage people of Greek origin. The analogy seemed worth repeating. It’s ancient history and there might be a valid lesson in there.

PPS: Remember the 300 Spartans. They fought bravely and they all died.

George Torok Host of Business in Motion Business Speaker  
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