Wolf among sheep: War is the father of all

Kristian Holte is an entrepreneur who favours contrarian thinking and provocative ideas. Tackling the issues surrounding starting a business in Denmark, Kristian will share his experience of taking risks in a country where there’s really no need to. His company Qontra (qontra.dk) seeks to obviate lawyers by making law better, faster and cheaper.

So the two of you are not talking anymore at all? Sounds really nasty. I’m really sorry that you had to go through that.”

As far back as I can remember, I have viewed conflict as something negative. Conflict is destructive, I thought. Conflict has to be avoided. Conflict is taboo.

But now I realise that we should replace conflict with consensus. Come on, please, let’s be friends!

A standoff is not a setback (Photo: colourbox)

New perspective
But what if conflict is actually the root of all progress? What if conflict is actually necessary for the evolution of things?

When you come to think of it, the greatest adversity in people’s lives is often followed by the greatest moments.

This is the case because destruction leaves a vacuum of opportunity, which we are forced to fill.

A blank slate
About one and a half thousand years ago Heraclitus said: “War is the father of all things.” In this context ‘war’ can also be understood as ‘adversity’, ‘conflict’ or ‘stress’. Heraclitus meant that instead of seeing war as destructive, as adversity, as conflict and as stress, we should see it as creating a blank slate from which progress is forced to

The point is: setbacks are not setbacks. We invented this way of describing the phenomenon and attributed negative emotions to it. ‘Setbacks’ constitute a great opportunity to be creative. Indeed, this applies in business too.

Endless opportunity
Is it a bad thing when you lose a big customer? Is it a bad thing when the economy crashes? Is it a bad thing when you get in a fight with your business partner and part ways, never to speak to each other again?

These events are never pleasant. Humans will instinctively do whatever possible to prevent them from happening. Because they cause stress. However, they also create endless opportunity for something new to replace the old.

So, instead of functioning to avoid adversity, embrace adversity when you encounter it. It’s neither good nor bad. It just is.

In the end, it helps to know that war is the father of all.