Thought for Thursday – Compromise and ‘Seven Wants’


Happy Thursday – I hope everyone had a great day on Wednesday, whether you ran because it was Wednesday or ‘National Runner’s Day’, or engaged in another activity, or didn’t because you are hurt or didn’t feel like it, or maybe had a nice big tasty ice cream … whatever you did, I hope you had a great day. The picture is from my Wednesday run – I tried to mix things up a bit, but really … it was just a Wednesday run. As I was filling in my ‘Wants’ for the ’10 Day You Challenge’, compromise came up – I was thinking of a discussion Lisa and I had a couple of times this week about not compromising our moral or ethical standards as a core value.

One of the early projects I worked on with Corning was technically excellent but commercially doomed – due to the timelines of two stages of innovation required for short and long term solution. Then there was a full team meeting – and they killed the project. Period. Sure they could have extended the program, changed the focus, sought different goals for the interim and so on. It made me think of a quote:

“A Compromise That Makes Neither Side Happy Is a Bad Compromise”

At my old job … there were NO projects I ever saw explicitly killed. Sure, people were moved off, maybe they eventually withered away, but there was always at least one person who had to deal with continued interest from customers and commercial people who pitched the project initially. In those cases (one in particular that I can’t discuss involves a project that would have been niche anyway, had a terrible technical flaw, but had one important customer with interest regardless), the customer isn’t getting focus or attention, the company isn’t seeing revenue, and the people working on it get neither satisfaction nor help in their efforts. That non-decision is a great example of a terrible compromise.

I have talked about compromise before, and the two very different potential meanings:

– an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.
– to make a dishonorable or shameful concession.

For some people the word automatically has one meaning or the other, but for me it can mean either one given the context. Coming back to the posts from Suz, and Sara, when I talk about the little regrets through my life, many of them are times I compromised my standards, taking part in things I wouldn’t normally do or saying things I disagreed in deep down, all for the sake of instant social gratification.

But the other type of compromise – the one of finding a common route of success by letting go of the need to control 100% of everything – happens all the time. But the time you read this it will have happened around me perhaps a dozen or more times at work … and compromise and negotiation are a daily part of parenting and any long term relationship such as marriage.

I’ll say it right now – if you don’t ever compromise in your relationships, either it isn’t really true or everyone else is forced to compromise all the time (in which case they all hate you either secretly or not, and you are building a box because no on will ever want to deal with you unless forced). Specifically to marriage – a marriage where one person refuses to ever compromise is a bad marriage – because the other person is then forced to compromise all the time, at which point we move from one type of compromise to the other. And yes, I have known people like that … and no it never ends well.


10 Day You Challenge

OK, so now I am up to Day 4, and the theme is Wants. Here’s the thing – when I thought about this, nothing materialistic came to mind. On the one hand that tells me I have my needs met in that regard, and on the other that it isn’t a primary focus for me.

Day Four: Seven Wants

1. Our boys to be happy adults – that is vague for a reason. Things like college, degree, job title, address … none of that really matters if you are miserable. If they are happy with their lives – I will be happy.

2. Lisa and I to grow old together – sure this is the natural complement to my ‘fear’ … but doesn’t that make sense? If you noticed, divorce wasn’t one of my fears, sure marriage requires work, but I just don’t even see it as a possibility at this point in our lives. So if we remain healthy we should be able to enjoy a long life together … and to me, retiring and walking the beach on Cape Cod after hearing how wonderful our boys are doing … that is a dream I would love to see come true.

3. Having enough money to never really struggle – We are lucky in that we have always been employed, and have a beautiful home, nice clothes and plenty of things … sure we struggle and money is always a concern and consideration. All I would ever want is to be able to do things that we really want to do – not extravagant, but be able to enjoy.

4. To be able to run every day for as long as possible – I don’t pretend I will be running into my 80s … but who knows? I have said at my 25th ‘runner-versary’ that I would love to be running for another 25 years, which would make me 73. That would be pretty awesome.

5. To have a job I enjoy (enough) until I retire – let’s face it … it is a JOB; it is what we do to make money to provide an income for whatever we want to do in life. If we are lucky we enjoy it most of the time, and if we are really lucky it satisfies our passions. I have had a relatively few jobs since college, and have generally liked them, the challenges and the people. Many people are not so lucky, I know – our economy remains crappy, millions of jobs are never coming back, and it is a struggle. So I just hope that I can remain in a decent place for as long as I need to work.

6. Enough time for my other hobbies – I am enjoying having my little music studio running again, but really haven’t had much time yet. Life is very busy between a more-than-full time job, marriage, kids, house and yard, and so on. I have largely stopped playing video games, have a strong running focus (no duh), but definitely want to make sure I give myself time for music as well.

7. A more peaceful and tolerant focus for our country/world – We see progress, but it is really hard – and we’re not as far as I would have hoped by now. We just passed the 95th anniversary of the 19th amendment, and yet there remains a wage gap, job discrimination, and so on. I have seen gay rights move from ‘Anita Bryant’ and some very wide-spread hate in the 70s, through Reagan and the ever-hateful GOP shutting down funding on AIDS in what was essentially war on its own citizens, to now having legal protection in many states as well as the right to marry in a bunch of places. But at the same time I see us more polarized as a country – for some it seems they would rather the economy stagnate and people starve rather than cooperate. So even as we see forward progress in some areas I see us sliding backwards. That is just sad.

So what is your idea of compromise? And what is on your ‘want’ list?

26 thoughts on “Thought for Thursday – Compromise and ‘Seven Wants’

  1. I definitely share the “enough money never to struggle” want. I have a decent amount of student loan debt at the moment, and Ben is about to go back to school, so we’re feeling the pinch. But I’m hopeful that our educations will contribute to happier careers and enough money to be comfortable.

    • “enough money to be comfortable” … that is the hard thing. When we moved, we bought a gorgeous new house literally twice the size of our old one (and our old one was a decent sized 4-bedroom) … so we moved the goalposts, so to speak. Pay off student loans, get new cars; pay off cars, get cell phones; and so on … and of course kids are like an adjustable sponge that will absorb ALL of your money! 🙂

      • Yeah, the trick is definitely in not expanding your lifestyle as your paycheck expands. Thankfully, Ben is REALLY focused on that, so we are doing ok 🙂 Although once kiddos are part of the picture, I can see myself spending waaay to much money on them 😉

  2. My one overarching want is to be happy (as much as possible) throughout my life. Part of that includes things like having enough money, enjoying my job, and having time for the things I want to do. Interestingly, all those things include compromise. I can’t possibly do EVERYTHING that I want to do, I will always have to make some sacrifices in order to make other things affordable, etc.

  3. #2 made me smile because that really is a dream come true. I would love to be on a big porch someplace (hopefully by a beach) in a rocking chair drinking wine with my husband and getting a phone call from Betty telling us all about the wonderful things going on in her life at that moment. More than anything in the whole world, I just want happiness for her. 🙂

  4. I’ve been told by someone once that in a relationship you can only have two types of people – one that is the steer-er and one that follows, I replied to them that the second person will not be having a great life if they have no choice – they were very adamant that that is how a relationship should work. I obviously didn’t agree as compromise has to happen!

    I also want my kids to grow up happy and be fulfilled in life. You never know what the future will bring and growing up is scary.

    • I can see that in many cases there are situations of lead & follow, but in general it is not always the same person. I see that in my marriage – that is why I tell people not to get so hung up on the whole 50/50 thing … it is about the long haul, not a day-by-day accounting. But the idea of one person ‘in charge’ … sounds like a crappy life …

      Totally agree on how scary it is having the kids grow up – it is exciting, but i worry every. single. day.

  5. Having come from a job that made me so miserable to my current job, number 5 is very justified in its inclusion!
    I love number 7 and couldn’t agree more in terms of that being a “want,” though I’m not sure we’re really more polarized. I think strong levels of polarization are found in much US history, it’s just a combination of that being forgotten, glossed over, minimized, and the current media climate that perhaps make it more in your face than in times people alive today can personally recall.

    • Very true – I definitely should have clarified that it feels more polarized than when I was younger, in spite of so much forward progress in many areas.

      And I think through the years the concepts of working for tangible things compared to being genuinely happy have become clearer to me … I should have left my previous job 3 years earlier, and would have been more happy.

  6. Really enjoyed reading this post 🙂

    A big personal want of mine at the moment is not to let fear effect any of the actions in my life. Fear of stepping out my comfort zone, fear of other people, fear of the unknown, of going against the grain… “Feel the fear and do it anyway” is a big mantra of mine at the moment.

  7. Compromise is interesting too me. For too long I compromised to much, and it really wasn’t positive for my relationships. I may have gone back the other way now in response, but I’m realizing that I will compromise in a healthy way for the relationships that are important to me. Figuring out which those are isn’t as easy as it seems, but I think I’m getting there!

    • That is why I think it is important to split the two meanings – compromise (1) is a necessary part of life … compromise (2) is the quick route to failed relationships and regrets. 🙂 Finding the balance even in #1 is REALLY hard …

  8. I look at compromise as – if I do, how will I feel about it a year from now, who does it affect and is it in keeping with my compass – in other words, I really need to think about it first, instead of jumping in with both feet.

    The love what you do and do what you love applies a lot, but sometimes we have to look at the dollars that come in too, so there are some compromises we have to make to enjoy the lifestyles we have become accustomed to or want. I am lucky that I got to retire earlier than most and get to do things that I love and want, as long as I am willing to compromise being as materialistic and know that travelling or other higher end things are not part of the equation i.e. have to live modestly.

    There is a difference between compromise and being bullied/coerced or forced to accept something is not acceptable to you, to me that is not compromise.

    I think that enjoying our lives, focusing on what we have and need versus what we want sometimes is more important than many of the “things” that have become so important in our present society – unless of course you are talking about running shoes or good coffee, which are perfectly acceptable vices ;-). I didn’t think I could stay too serious for the whole thing. hehehehe.

    • Exactly (and you really DID hold on to the serious reply for a long time) – someone else telling you that YOU need to ‘compromise’ … is not compromise. I also totally agree with you on the balance of $ to lifestyle – like you say there is always some form of compromise.

      One thing I am enjoying doing these lists is the reaffirmation of what is important. Right now I am sitting in front of a dual-monitor setup for my laptop, my iPad to the side, my iPhone and Samsung in front of me, and the Garmin FR-15 on my wrist … and yet none of that is REALLY important to me, though I love the capabilities they all provide. Right now I don’t have to compromise in this area, but I could definitely minimize much more.

  9. Great list! Mine is somewhat close to yours, but you’ve summed it up pretty well. None of my wants include being rich. I just want to live comfortably. Also, the job satisfaction – it’s a big one. We spent there so much time that being miserable would suck big time! xoxo

    • So true – though with the economy and so many lost jobs, many people are working jobs just for the money, it makes finding that satisfaction harder than ever. I know I am fortunate. Thanks for sharing Olena 🙂

  10. As always, amazing. With regards to the wants, I think mine will very much echo yours–family happiness and security over extravagance. Living “comfortably” should triumph over being “rich”–I’ve known too many people who have all the money in the world, and a) they are never satisfied and b) they focus on the money and not their family. Money is a finicky b*tch, and like food–some people easily have a sense of balance when it comes to food/money, some people have an unhealthy relationship with them.

    • Absolutely agree on the relentless pursuit of money. And your (a) is the critical part – it is never enough, and they constantly adjust things (more expensive car, bigger house, boat, whatever) to continue to keep pace!

  11. I have a lot of similar wants, especially to see Ashton grow up to be a happy, well adjusted man! In every relationship, compromise is necessary. I always think of things in terms of if it’s worth fighting for. If not, I will quickly compromise, if it’s something I feel very strongly about I will “fight” for it. That’s not to say I still won’t compromise to meet an end goal I am satisfied with, but I tend to just go with the flow in most of my relationships, mostly because there isn’t much I can’t bend a little or a lot for. BUT, if I fight for something, it is because I am very passionate about it and at that point, if we are talking about marriage, Robyn knows that it’s something that means a lot to me and he will compromise. It’s all a give and take. Right now, my want is to curl up on the couch while Ash is napping and start my new book (which is what I am going to do after I finish up this comment) 🙂 Have a great weekend!

    • Thanks for the comment Sara – and so glad for you coming home and getting time with your family! So true on the spirit of compromise – life is about picking your battles, and I am really a very easy-going and undemanding person, so if I say I want something, Lisa will listen. She used to feel bad if I didn’t want to buy something for myself on a family vacation – but as I said, when I really want something, that will tell you 🙂

    • I think it is a matter of focus. When I hear ‘want’ it is more about ‘stuff’ – whereas hope is more ephemeral, and more about ideas and feelings.

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