Matters of the Heart or Complex Negotiations

We discuss intentions a whole lot, and proactive steps that take our human feet closer to our end goals – be it a permanent status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians or something a bit personal, like a piece of that pie in the sky. 

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” — Dr. Suess

But ultimately, that decision-making moment for state (and non-state) leaders and common folk alike is relatively a solitary one that consists of agonizing deliberation (for some of us unlucky ones, who have yet to trust their gut). 

Recently, while in the midst of yet another dilemma of mine which requires a step to the left or right to be measured forward accordingly, a friend of mine was presented with a decision she had to make about her career. It came down to opportunity, preferences, and ultimately, what the blurry future holds. She mentioned she was frustrated because she couldn’t make a decision, specifically, that her gut wasn’t feeling one way or another about stepping right or left. 

I sympathize with this predicament, but I wonder if trusting your head is indeed a skill your learn with experience and why does it come naturally to so many people, who have less experience than me? Chief Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiator, Gilead Sher, says that with experience you learn to trust your intuition. Keep your eye toward the end goal and come from a place of interests, not positions in complex negotiations. Matters of the heart are complex negotiations indeed.

Back to that solitary moment, when you decide to say something that could be interpreted as offensive to a loved one, but you say it anyway because, well you could blame your gut but really you just don’t know how to bite your tongue – another physical reflex we have to hone? 

So I wonder, after a Dr. Suess themed yoga class and a missed flight connection which complicates life in all directions, left, right forward and back, what was Anwar Sadar wearing when he decided to make peace with Israel? Did Ariel Sharon have breakfast on the definitively decisive, isolated day when he decided to be the Israeli Prime Minister that disengaged from the Gaza Strip? What about Mohammad Mosaddeq and the decision to nationalize Iranian oil, did he sleep alone on that fateful night?

No doubt about it, it takes a strong leader to make bold decisions that will affect your constituency. And even if you have public support, there is no guarantee that your decision will be for the good of the country, your citizens, your brothers. I would be scared too. The reassuring and simultaneously terrifying fact is that a person can stand still for only so long, life is not static, so you can pick your own direction or let the tide come take you somewhere else entirely. 

Also, the plain fact that I have been coming to grips with today and everyday is that it’s never one decisive moment. It’s a PROCESS, one thing leading to the next, one decision leading to another one a few days later. A bottom-up and top-down approach at the same time, dialogue, things learned from past mistakes, failures and small victories, finding opportunities in conflict.

I wonder what Erdogan’s yoga practice would look like. 

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.” — Rumi.


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