The Difference between Compromise and Alignment
As we have been dancing with finding a home, I have been faced with choices that would constitute a compromise of the values that my wife and I feel are important. For instance, I found a great farmhouse for rent with 10 acres of pasture and a barn. The only thing is, conventional GMO crops of soybeans and corn surround the land.
We are committed to making sure that our children don’t live where they would be exposed to chemicals that are used to farm such crops. GMO soybeans and corn are created so that there are no weeds in the fields. The only way to accomplish this is to make the crops resistant to Roundup, an herbicide from Monsanto. This Roundup resistant crop can withstand direct application of the herbicide. That’s why you see these nice rows of crops with no weeds as you drive along the highway.
There are abundant scientific studies that show linkages between Roundup usage and numerous types of cancer and other health challenges from liver and kidney damage and reproductive system disorders. Monsanto has challenged these studies with their own data. What I know is that I don’t want to put our children at risk by exposing them to Roundup.
Now let’s focus on the conversation of alignment versus compromise and the farmhouse. With the end date for our current occupancy closing in, we were faced with this great house, which has a small problem – the herbicides. I could hear my inner voice saying, “What’s a little herbicide? You had far worse when you were young. Hell, you ran after the DDT mosquito truck as a kid and loved it.” I could feel the noose of compromise dropping around my neck. I wanted so badly to remove the uncertainty of not knowing where we are going to live over
This compromise would not be aligned to the values that we hold to be important. As I was listening to my inner compromise voice, I was remembering all the times in my life where I have compromised. I compromised to get the deal done. I compromised so that we could move the decision along. I compromised because people would be upset otherwise. You know your version of the compromise story.
I have been taught that compromise is noble and it is required to get things done. Yet, I had lingering concerns that compromise was not exactly the right approach. Since I didn’t have another alternative and wanted to get by and get along, I compromised.
Some years ago, in my work with corporate groups, I began to spend time teaching about alignment. Alignment is about bringing together the concerns and values of all involved in a way where everyone feels good about a decision rather than compromising and ending up with something that no one particularly feel right about.
It is this approach of alignment that brought out the best outcome with the farmhouse. As we talked about the right decision, it was easy. My wife was holding true to our values. Rather than trying to convince her to compromise, I listened to what is important to her (and me for that matter) and felt if there was a place of alignment of values with this farm. Nope, this was the wrong choice for us and we moved on to await other possibilities.
This topic is broad and warrants greater discussion. I will offer in the next month an expanded paper on alignment and compromise. I’ll let you know when it will be available.