Those are writer Aaron Sorkin’s words, coming out of President Barlet’s mouth during an episode of The West Wing. The President is coaching one of his deputies as they play a game of chess set against the backdrop of an international crisis.

Bartlet wants his deputy to think – and therefore see – beyond the immediate, apparent next steps in the crisis.

When clients are frustrated by a colleague or boss who is uncooperative, obstructionist, or even seemingly sabotaging, I’ll often share this story to help redirect their attention from what’s making them nuts to creating a solution where they shine.

If you’ve got your own version of a nemesis, a few suggestions:

  • Make them part of your success
  • Make others part of, or invested in, that success, particularly at high levels in the organization and Board
  • Influence those around the obstructionist and build those relationships
  • Direct your energy toward keeping your eye on the prize — which are the results you’re tasked with – and not toward the antics that are making you nuts
  • Hit the ball out of the park with your results; success is very difficult to argue with
  • Keep in mind that your ability to deal with your nemesis may, in fact, be part of your development as a leader and will be regarded that way by others, making you more valuable