OK, true confession. I thought I had something right at work.
Luckily the guy on the other side was a good sport. In seconds, I conceded and we moved on. No blaming someone else or doubling down. Those actions just would have made things worse.
He laughed as I joked, “I guess there’s always room to get smarter!”
Holding to your values is important. However, when you become so resolved that you’ve become brittle, it’s time to take a second look.
The July series, The Land of No, is examining all kinds of situations where we need to say a healthy “no”. Shifting is natural once we courageously see what isn’t working. That’s a common-sense goal that can be almost impossible to implement in real life.
Saying that Martin McGuinness had a checkered past would be an understatement. By the time he was in his mid-20s, he was knee deep in terrorist activity conducted by the IRA, including the infamous Bloody Sunday skirmish. The violence took its toll. McGuinness finally admitted, “War is terrible. There is nothing romantic about war.”
Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bill Clinton were skeptical when McGuinness became the spokesman for Sinn Fein. Yet he won their respect during the arduous Northern Ireland peace process that resulted in the Good Friday Agreement.
President Clinton described him this way at his funeral:
“Somewhere along the way, for whatever reason, he decided to give peace a chance. Some of the reasons were principled, some were practical, but he decided.”
“So that’s what he did, he persevered, and he prevailed. He risked the rejection of his comrades and the wrath of his adversaries. He made honorable compromises and was strong enough to keep them, and came to be trusted because his word was good.”
Ireland remained in pieces even though The Troubles had ended. Unification was unthinkable to Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley. For 50 years, the fiery Protestant minister had a single comment about possibly compromising with Sinn Fein: “Never, never, never!
It took decades of civil war for both sides to see that everyone was losing. Discussions began and ended and began again, finally taking root. After 9 months of talks, an agreement was reached with Paisley and McGuinness elected as First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. To everyone’s surprise, the two developed such a congenial working relationship that the press dubbed them “The Chuckle Brothers.”
Right now you could have every reason to stand your ground. Before you say, “never, never, never”, ask yourself, “What’s most important to me – finding the right outcome, or getting my way?”
The answer you’ve been seeking might surprise you. It probably involves saying yes to finding the middle ground, as Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness did for the good of Ireland.
Being narrow minded? That’s accepting less than, and you must say a quick and firm “no”.
This week, consider where your life feels tight or tense. That’s where rigid has run its course.