On Choosing Battles

Sarah Anne Freiesleben
2 min readJan 19, 2022


“Choose your battles” the McKinsey consultant told me as he decided to completely change his recommendation to our CEO (who was paying him for his expert advice).

“But we agreed this was the number one recommendation,” I pleaded, perplexed as to why he was doing the opposite of what he was brought in to do.

“Life is about only taking battles you have a chance to win,” he wisely informed me.

I reflect on this advice a lot these days as I still hear this phrase all the time, usually when people want me to stop doing the very thing I believe is right.

What does this phrase mean these days? How are we using it? We are inundated with positive psychology messages about following our voice, our passion, being the change, having courage. But the second people try to express uncomfortable truths, we condescendingly say, “choose your battles, dear. Stop trying to boil the ocean”.

So here’s a hard truth my one of my somatics coaches dropped on me: “what I want to do is hard. So I either need to stop wanting to do it or realize the battle will be hard and take it anyway.”

It seems to me that humanity has some pretty important battles to take these days. And they are not easy and they might not all be winnable.

How do you choose yours?