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When Our Enemies Fall

I’m not well-schooled in the specifics of The Bible, but a passage making its way around the popular media today caught my eye. Proverbs 24:17 reads, “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble.”

Of course, folks are using those words as caution against excessive celebration about the death of Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader who became the country’s most hunted man after spearheading the September 11, 2011 attacks on the United States that killed almost 3,000 people and opened a new door of frightening, world-shaking possibilities. Seems human nature to feel grateful and happy that one less evil person walks among us. Yet, the caution to not rejoice too much is heard and noted.

Closer to home (in a much less dramatic development), my client today told me about her “enemy” that fell–her spotlight-seeking, work-avoiding boss, who recently announced she was leaving “to pursue other opportunities.”  And while my client kinda wants to rejoice (it’s been a frustrating, unproductive relationship), we talked about approaching the situation with caution.

This change could lead to a promotion and new responsibilities (yeah!!) Or it could lead to a broader reorg and further steps away from the work she loves the most (boo!!). Either is very real right now–and neither is certain.

When our enemies fall, it always leaves a gap. Celebrations can be premature. Who’ll step into the gap–will it be you, a friend or foe? Will the space be filled with fresh thinking, or more of the same? The decision my client made is to step into the gap, communicating her value to her interim leaders, and staying clear and confident about her superpowers and values.

What will you do when your enemies (or any annoying people who get in your way) fall? Will you step into the gap–or teeter on the edge?