“Marriage is all about compromise. When we got married my wife wanted a cat. I wanted a dog. So we compromised and got a cat.” ~ Jeff Bingham ~ Rules of Engagement
I was reminded of this earlier this week when I attended a ‘Get Motivated’ seminar in Austin. One of the keynote speakers was General Colin Powell. In the spirit of full disclosure, let me first say I was never a passenger on the Colin Powell bandwagon. I always felt he was not nearly as conservative as he wanted the public to believe. Eventually, my skepticism would prove itself out and the General would expose his true philosophies.
At the seminar, Gen. Powell talked about the necessity of compromise and how we have far too many people in Washington D.C. that are unwilling to compromise and that it is destroying our country. I beg to differ. As I see it, compromise is what got us into the colossal mess we are in. I contend – compromise leads to mediocrity – and no matter whether it is in politics, business, marriage, sports, or any other aspect of life, mediocrity leads to defeat.
Here are the definitions for compromise;
- a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.
- the result of such a settlement.
- something intermediate between different things: The split-level is a compromise between a ranch house and a multi-storied house.
- an endangering, especially of reputation; exposure to danger, suspicion, etc.: a compromise of one’s integrity.
There really are few grey areas in life. A ‘thing’ has either a right conclusion or a wrong conclusion. It is either good for the person, couple, team, company, government, etc., or it is bad for the person, couple, team, company, government, etc. If you’re on the right side of an issue, why on earth should you compromise? When you do that, definition 4 applies – you must compromise your integrity to give in to an idea, desire, philosophy or legislation that is not right for everyone involved.
As a minister who has officiated several hundred weddings, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some well-meaning elder babble on to the young couple the time-honored cliché, “Marriage is all about compromise.” What a destructive load of crap that is. Anytime there is “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions” neither party actually gets their original desire – or more likely, one party just gives in to the demands of the other resulting over time in the buildup of resentment and erosion of unity.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey recommends synergy (cooperative action of two or more) over compromise. If you haven’t read the book, what are you waiting for? It’s a life changer and should be on every persons “must read” list. As much as I am a proponent of synergy – I am an even bigger proponent of this concept – just do the right thing. Compromise muddies the water of life. The reality of life is that most things are either right or wrong, period. If it’s the right thing to do – do it. If it’s not the right the right thing to do – then don’t do it. Compromise seeks out some grey area somewhere in the middle.
Let’s look at an example. Jack & Jill are a young couple in their first year of marriage. He’s working and going to school 3 nights a week to finish his degree and she’s working 40 hours a week at a department store. He wants to invite friends over for a Super Bowl party and wants to buy a new 60” TV. She knows they can’t afford it. After hours of heated deliberation, they compromise and decide to buy a less expensive 48” TV. In the end, through ‘compromise’, he’s not happy because he didn’t get the 60” TV he wanted and she’s not happy because they are still going deeper into debt. In this example, with Covey’s ‘synergy’ perhaps they would both decide to work a few extra hours during the Holidays to pay for new TV. This is a much better solution, but is it really the ‘right thing’ to do? Probably not. Perhaps the right thing to do would have been for Jack to explain to his friends up front, “Look guys, Jill & I only have an old 27” TV that’s not high-definition. If you guys are okay with that, we can have a Super Bowl party at our house. If not, maybe we can agree on another location.”
As a nation, we really began our journey down the destructive road of compromise at the conclusion of World War II. Both Generals Patton and MacArthur saw the looming dangers of communism and sought an all out attack on Moscow while we had the most magnificent fighting force ever assembled in place to make the eradication of communism a short-term issue. The Generals were denied the swift victory and in its stead, we compromised. At Yalta, we turned over one-third of the world population to communism and spun ourselves into a cold war that would last nearly half a century and would unforgivably subject millions of human lives to communist tyranny. Since that time – as a nation – we have compromised our way into mediocrity. The only way to fix the damage is to STOP COMPROMISING and do what is right.
The same is true in our personal lives. Compromise has become such a politically correct part of our vernacular it as though it is expected of us. So, in the spirit of being politically correct, we compromise more and more every day until compromise works its way into our daily lives. We soon begin to compromise with our food choices, exercising, self education, spending habits, etc. In other words, we get lazy in our decision making and justify our poor decisions through the spirit of compromise. For example, if you are trying to eat healthier, you come home to homemade cookies – instead of eating 4 cookies like you might have wanted, in the spirit of compromise you tell yourself, “I’ll only eat two”. That kind of compromising in your life isn’t going to get you where you want to be.
Compromise is a destroyer. It will diminish your personal life, your marriage, your relationship with your children and family, your job and even our nation. You know very clearly what is the right thing to do – just do it! What areas of your life have you been compromising? What has it cost you and what will you do to fix it?
Monty Rainey is a District Manager working in the self storage industry since 1996 and currently overseeing 21 stores in the Austin & San Antonio, TX area. He is also a leadership coach and public speaker. For a free consultation, please contact Monty at 830-743-2139 or visit his website at http://www.montyrainey.com .
- Stephen Covey says compromise is for chumps (800ceoread.com)