Conflict Is Not A Sporting Event

When you stop trying to win, you cannot lose
by David Pauker
Forward by Jack Healey


Do you want to know
the secret for success
in all your conflicts?

Here’s the secret: Don’t try to win! Conflict is not a sporting event.

You are not really a victim of the other person in a conflict. You’re the victim of your own mind and the conflict story your mind is spinning. You are trapped in a win-lose mentality. In fact, your conflicts are about you.

Joe Ellis, the head of a Hollywood studio, was caught by the story of his own power. He was a bully who believed his own myth—no one could stand up to him and win. He was so enraged by the studio’s battle with the director of a motion picture I was working on that he refused to pay him $5,000 to settle the fight. Everyone told him not settling would inevitably increase the film’s production costs by at least $500,000. Joe boasted about winning—until the costs started piling up.

A simple 3-Step method

In every conflict there is wisdom and opportunity to be discovered under the surface. Every conflict has something to teach you about yourself. In most cases, what you genuinely need in a conflict remains buried below your awareness, under the fears and defenses of your ego. For example, even when a conflict appears to only be about money, it’s probably also about underlying issues such as respect, safety, understanding, belonging, or trust.

The 3-Step method in Conflict Is Not A Sporting Event utilizes underlying laws and patterns of conflict to help you create fair and equitable solutions for the conflicts in your life. You can heal your hurts caused by the conflict, harvest hidden opportunities, and make solving conflicts as simple as 1-2-3:

One. Heal yourself. STEP-1 is about defusing the natural reactions that keep you from acting with your maximum potential effectiveness in tough situations. In this step, Conflict Is Not A Sporting Event shows you the five things you need to develop the kind of self-awareness that stops the fire of conflict, so you can be more engaging and effective.

This approach will melt your anxiety, fear, worry, and anger; it will leave you calm, grounded, and able to follow through with the next two steps.

Two. Change your relationship with the conflict. STEP-2 is about more accurately understanding people, events and circumstances within the conflict, so that you will not be trapped by them. In this step, CONFLICT ALCHEMY provides you with two ways to escape the false perceptions that snare you, and it explains how you can find hidden opportunities in each conflict. This approach will transform your relationship with the conflict and enable you to take compassionate action for crafting a fair and equitable solution in STEP-3.

Three. Solve the conflict from the inside out. STEP-3 is about your finding a genuine, effective, and lasting solution that satisfies everyone’s real needs – and then getting everyone to adopt it. In this step, CONFLICT ALCHEMY reveals two natural abilities you possess to help you solve any conflict, five categories of real needs that are at the root of almost every conflict, and a five element process you can use to identify and actualize genuine solutions that lead to peace.

Practical solutions

The principles of this 3-STEP method have been successfully used by professionals for conflicts among individuals, groups, and communities of all kinds and sizes in the United States, the EU, and Japan. They have also been demonstrated effective in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and similar Global South locations where individuals and whole communities have been severely traumatized by conflict.

With a colloquial and friendly voice, CONFLICT ALCHEMY details this 3-STEP method. Every point in the book is illustrated with stories about historical figures, mediations, and my experiences in Hollywood. Skill building exercises following each chapter will help you apply the lessons when you are in the fire of a conflict in your relationships, business, community, or another setting.


Read a chapter from the book. Download the free chapter “Take Control of Your Conflict Story” along with an exercise to help you build your skills. 


Read more about ombuds, negotiation, and conflict in David’s writings on the Blog. Learn also about approaches to problems in specific situations.

Contact Us

Let’s have that  confidential, no obligation conversation and explore whether our proactive approach is a good fit for you.