Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.  We have all heard this saying countless times before.  But what exactly does it mean?  I like to think of it as, we usually know what’s going on with our friends (phone calls, texting, social media, safe in person hang outs, etc.), but do we ever really know what’s going on with our enemies?  We should always be mindful of what they are doing: in life, in business, in politics, and so forth.

We are all faced with an enemy or an opponent at some point.  Whether it’s a temporary personal opponent in a fight with a romantic partner or family member, a constant source of competition at work, or even witnessing the current political climate, we can all relate to an encounter with a rival.

Overconfidence and ignorance is not the goal in a competition; however, you should always aim to be a step ahead.  You need to have maximum knowledge of both your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of your opponent.  You never know when an underdog will surprise you.  It happens all the time in sports, in business, and even in elections!  That’s why coaches study other teams’ footage before games.  It is why military leaders study the other side.  It is why the best company doesn’t always win a sales pitch competition, it can be the ones who are more savvy and knowledgeable and prepared.  We need to focus on not only our own strengths but also those of others.

That can be true for any battle in our lives.  Whether battling an addiction, a disease, something with a family member, or a professional battle, we must stay mentally and physically tough throughout the journey.  We can never underestimate the power of our opponent.  Sometimes our greatest opponent is our own self-doubt and negativity.  We need to reject the temptation to listen to these voices in order to stay strong and prepare for whatever battle we are facing.

Preparation is key.  We should always expect the unexpected and never let looks be deceiving.  Do your best to make sure an enemy or opponent can’t hurt you.  This involves making your defenses strong: knowledge, strength, health, and power are all good defenses against an opponent.  Just like being over prepared is superior to being under prepared, we should actually overestimate our opposition instead of underestimating them.  I don’t mean overestimate them to the point of fear or being intimidated.  I just mean, expect they know more than you think they do.  Be ready for surprises.  Be ready for the unexpected.

Living through an election year as important as this one is a flawless example of never underestimating an opponent.  No matter what the polls say, the other side can still win.  We all need to get out and VOTE (or mail in our ballots, or drop them off, or whatever method you prefer)! We have seen many issues this year that have opposing sides: the election, wearing a mask, racial injustice, opening schools, and more.  We need to always educate ourselves not just on our side or position, but that of our opponent as well. Understanding our adversaries and working together towards a solution is the only way we are going to make true changes in our society.