I think we, as a society, don’t give the fine art of compromise enough credit. We’re an “all or nothing” kind of people. We avoid the middle ground because it feels indecisive. It’s better to just pick a side; “go big or go home” as they say.
Many of us think in black and white, especially when facing tough career decisions. We only see two options; one is “good” and the other is “bad”. But of course, we don’t know for sure which is which. So, we go back and forth, hemming and hawing about which road to take, and the whole time, we’re ignoring our options in the middle.
When we limit our choices, we limit our ability to see the middle ground. We start truly believing that there is only black or white; grey no longer exists. We create an unnecessary limitation.
“Should I stay at this job I don’t like or quit and follow my dream to start my own business?”
“Should I ask for a raise in this tough economy or just settle for what I’ve got?”
“Should I accept the promotion, even though it’s not what I really want, or decline it?”
On the surface, these seem like rational choices. We look at them and think, “Well, you have a decision to make.” But inherent in each one is the idea that there are only two options. What if there are more?
What if, instead of quitting your job to start your own business, you cut your hours down a bit and started a business slowly?
What if, instead of asking for a raise, you proposed a new pay-for-performance program?
What if, instead of accepting or declining the promotion, you tailored it to better suit your career goals and countered the offer?
Next time you’re facing a tough career decision, take a few minutes to explore the other opportunities you may not be seeing. Don’t let limited thought patterns trap you in black and white, either/or choices. There are always more options. You just have to look a little closer to see them.
Photo Credit: 9eorge (Flickr)