We learn as we experience it, that life is not cut and dry, that regardless of our highest ideals, when we get into the room with people who don’t think like us and/or do not give a damn about us, we will find ourselves in the midst of some uncomfortable conversations that lead to uncomfortable compromises. That’s reality. We don’t always get the choices we want; we simply get what we get and sometimes those choices are shitty, but we will agree to what we can because in many cases, we don’t really have a choice. The choice may mean literally starving or having to take it on the chin – for this round.
We all get to sit in those rooms some day and we will have those conversations and we will not always be on the winning end. Sometimes we will be made to accept a deal that we despise today, but may get us what is helpful in another way on another day. That’s life. That’s the whole game right there.
So, how do you think you’d play? So much better than those who’ve been traversing those minefields for decades? You wouldn’t be at all unusual if you answered, yes. Because, for all the generations, we all did.
Sometimes, in our roles as citizens watching our leadership(s), we learn some of our negotiators have less than our desired level of social and/or diplomatic skills – sometimes they say things that embarrass, sometimes they stumble hard. But often, at those negotiating discussions, they’re made to accept something quite awful from that table of the day and most times, they are unable to tell us exactly what went down at that table. Not because they don’t want to, but because silence is often a specified condition. Usually, it’s a condition meant to maximize the heat of humiliation or coercion; a public spectacle by the party with the upper hand meant to make sure one sticks to the bargain regardless of how distasteful or unfair. That is the reality of the political playing field. It is a vicious industry.
These same scenarios play out regularly in other arenas of our lives too. The same sort of offers and/or request denials occur around board tables in business, educational institutes, social justice platforms, even marriage. It really doesn’t matter – it’s a ubiquitous minefield of varying degrees within the human condition.
Life does not allow us to always have the upper hand even if we hold the highest card in ethics, morals, in the desire to do what’s most right. Many times we simply have to accept that we are all often made to agree to and endure uncomfortable compromises on a regular basis. I’ve personally found this to be one of the most frustrating, often saddening aspects of the facts of life, but it remains a fact nonetheless.
That’s why it’s necessary to look at the totality of any work on a regular basis. Taking stock, we call it. We do this to keep perspective and to respect the fact that few of us are so exceptional that we never have a moment of embarrassment or humiliation or disappointment or downright devastation when having to work something out that requires negotiation. It’s very hard work, often deeply demoralizing, and any who succeed at it, stumbling all along, while upholding the best they can for who they represent, has earned respect.
Sometimes, we forget that life is hard enough as it is without anyone ever having to create drama where none is needed. This too is a fine line dance that requires the benefit of experience to make reasonable discerning choices. Hopefully, we get the benefit of learning these lessons sooner than later, but if we don’t, let’s hope the consequences are less bitter or devastating than needed too.
The best visionaries are those who keep the biggest picture in focus to the best of their abilities. We all want to be led by such folks and in many instances, we are. We just need to keep our own sights on the bigger picture in support until we too get to that line of successful focus. It’s a major achievement. All the wishes in the world don’t get us there any faster. We need to also remember to not beat up on them or ourselves on our own way there, because that goal is simply not reached without the necessary journey to get there.