Very often, in order to have a purpose, a group will create a rival group, or an enemy. The group can then focus their attention on the rival, the enemy. They will be able to plan and strategise as to how they can win, how they can outgrow, or even defeat the enemy. But in focusing so much time on the enemy they can get distracted and maybe fail to notice a new rival. Did the Conservatives and Labour spend so much time focusing on each other; that they failed to notice the UKIP enemy approaching?
Where is the real enemy?
But an even greater problem is that by focusing so much time and attention on the rival, the group may fail to acknowledge that very often the real enemy, the real fighting, actually lies within their own group as the group members fight between themselves for position, status and meaning. The group has become disillusioned and discontented, so are now fighting between themselves.
I once worked with a client who went to a famous public boarding school. The local comprehensive school kids hated the wealth and privilege that the public school boys were seen to enjoy, so the comprehensive school lads targeted the public school lads as the enemy group. In-turn, the public school lads saw the comprehensive school kids as the enemy too. And occasionally there would be a fight, a skirmish, between some members of the two rival groups. But because so much time was spent thinking about the enemy, both schools failed to be truly aware that far more fighting went on within their own schools then with the enemy.
Do you have a group mentality?
So, in thinking about groups in this way, you might want to think about any group mentality in your life. Are you an avid sports fan – who is the enemy team? If you drive a certain make of motor car – who is the enemy manufacturer? The area where you live – who is the rival area that you don’t like? The shops you shop in, the newspaper you read, the supermarket you shop in … the list is endless
Is the enemy much closer than you think?
There is a sense of safety and security in being part of a group, But just for a while, forget about the enemy group and consider … are you really safe? Is the greater threat, the bigger enemy, actually within your own group? I have seen this time and time again with clients suffering with work stress … the stress is frequently because of the in-house fights, battles and wars. When strategising and competing with your rival organisation or competitor, the stress is a positive stress, it is invigorating and uplifting, you actually feel energized and empowered by it as you develop and grow from coming up against your competitor. It is internal battles and backstabbing that nearly always lead to negative stress, exhaustion, debilitating worry, anxiety, depression and the like. Be vigilant, the enemy may be much closer than you think!
See Executive Stress