Heather Hansen

Two Queens in Queens

I’m a trial lawyer, and it’s my job to win. Every time I step into the courtroom I know that someone will leave a winner, and someone will lose. And I struggle with that part of my job. I cry easily, have a lot of empathy for others, and I believe very strongly in the power of compassion, collaboration and cooperation. But my job is a fight, and it often feels like war. I wrote my book, The Elegant Warrior-How to Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself, to share ways to find a balance between the elegance of compassion and the aggression of war. I believe it is possible to win, and lose, with elegance. And I look every day for examples of people who do it well.

Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff showed me the way. At this year’s U.S. Open, they were rivals on the court. Both young women stepped onto the tennis court armed for battle and ready to win. They fought with all they had. And then, when it was over, they collaborated. Naomi was elegant enough to ask Coco to share the post-match interview with her. And Coco was elegant enough to say yes, and share her disappointment with the crowd.

There aren’t many jobs where you publicly win or lose. Trial law and politics are two. Sports are another. But every day we all face challenges that feel like trials, and everyone of us fights our own inner war. The more we can follow the example of Naomi and Coco, the better off we will all be.

The ability to compete and then collaborate will improve our country. It will improve our corporations, our schools, and our families. And you can’t tell me it isn’t possible. I just saw two young women do it perfectly on a tennis court in Flushing, Queens.

I believe this kind of collaboration will take some change. The “male” way of winning isn’t the only way. We can be aggressive, brusque, assertive and strong and also empathetic, compassionate and nurturing. We can win, and then we can cry. And if you don’t believe me, watch Naomi and Coco.

Heather Hansen

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