Most of us like it when things go our way. That’s just human nature. But always doing just what we want whenever we want isn’t always good for us. As Dr. M. Scott Peck pointed out on page 53 of his mega-bestseller, The Road Less Traveled, “It is natural to defecate in our pants and never brush our teeth. Yet we teach ourselves to do the unnatural until it becomes second nature.”
Experience has taught me that if I really want to maximize opportunities and outcomes, I need to ignore my immediate desire to take charge and instead think about how I might use compromise in order to optimize. This means learning to go against my nature and letting go of my natural human desire to have everything go my way.
This life lesson has served me well through the years—both personally and professionally. I can’t possibly count the times that an event, an evening, an outcome, a relationship or an experience wasn’t in some way improved because I chose to not assert my will on something.
Pick Your Battles – Understand Human Nature
When I work with CEO’s, salespeople, board members and other high-powered professionals, one of the critical aspects of my job is to help them learn which “battles” they should be taking on and how to engage when doing so. More often than not, we end up discussing which battles are worth fighting for, and which issues to leave alone. I suggest that they might be more effective leaders, have a greater chance of getting their desired outcome, and even avoid their greatest fears by carefully selecting their battleground. Learning how to choose our battles is one way we exercise the notion of going against our natural desire to attempt to control all circumstances and events each and every minute of the day. Sometimes when we give up getting our way, we gain a better outcome.
When we focus on what’s really important in terms of desired outcome, whether it’s a business deal, a closed sale or perhaps an enjoyable evening—and learn to compromise other less important issues, we have a chance to discover the great opportunities that others can contribute. This kind of compromising can bring opportunities that we probably couldn’t have brought about, left to our own devices. In this way, it’s not the goal we’re compromising; it’s merely our human nature in the moment.
Sometimes human nature doesn’t serve us as well as what we choose to make our second nature. When we learn to compromise to optimize in a way that it becomes second nature to us, life can be more rewarding. It’s simple. Not easy. But definitely worth it.