It Is Possible to Commit No Mistakes and Still Lose

200228 Picard to data


It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.

That is not a weakness. That is life


Star Trek – The Next Generation (Season 2 episode 21 – “Peak Performance”)


Captain Jean Luc Picard to Commander Data


When I heard this, I thought it was about life being unfair. Then, after it had time to sink in, I realized that it refers more to the response you have to life’s challenges.


Life happens. The thought that what we do will guarantee a particular outcome or result is what is being challenged.

There are many parents who are great parents yet cannot get a court to give them the parenting time that their child deserves with them. Gender bias, racial prejudice, ‘dumb judges’ and old school thinking are all explanations I hear used by parents (I will admit to having relied on them myself at times) who believe that they have committed no mistakes and still ‘lost’ their child.


In one case that comes to mind there is documented family violence (physical, emotional and financial) on the part of the mother – yet she has shared parenting. Another where the mother was shown through drug testing to be an addict – and it took almost 3 years to get parenting changed to Dad. Another where a temporary order became permanent because of the passage of time when the Court would not make a decision about the ‘temporary’ change in parenting. Another where it is clear (and not denied by the mother) that the child receiving the benefits of child support are leveraged by the child ‘siding’ with Mum.

Step back and examine your thoughts right now. Can you see how easy it is to fall into the ‘losing’ trap?


My business card says that the best way to create the future is to create it. If the courts do not , or will not, give you what you want, try taking the time to understand the other parent, show them that you understand and patiently work with them to focus on your child and their parenting needs.


This may not be a quick process. It may not be an easy process. The conversation may not even travel along a straight path. Yet taking the time to understand the other parent, showing them that you have understood (understanding does not mean you agree) and proposing solutions that work for you, your child and the other parent is the surest way to “create the future”.


The Star Trek episode ends with everything working out (as all the episodes do). What remains is realizing that no matter how grim the expected outcome may be, the question is how would things have ended up had the Enterprise crew not set the ground work by trying not to commit any mistakes, doing what they knew or believed to be the right thing to do (controlling what was in their control) and only then leaving what was not in their control to unfold?

The Art & Science of Dispute Resolution

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