The other day I was debating with a friend and I said: ‘Ok, we both wish the same. Only, to get there I’m working hard to accept how you are, while you’re working as hard to change how I am’. This made me think, how often do we waste time because we’re stuck in our own way? Here’s a few examples from the past:
When I was young my mum wanted me to wash the dishes after lunch. I was ok with leaving the plates soaking in the sink for 7 or 8 hours and washing them as soon as my mum got back home from work. My mum was more of the school of thought ‘wash up right after you finish eating’. Spectacular long fights ensued, where I stood my ground saying: ‘Who cares when I wash them!’ Funny thing is, we both wanted the plates to be clean. I’m in the car with my friend Diego debating the best way to get somewhere.Diego: ‘Take a left’. Me: ‘No I’ll keep going’. Diego: ‘No take a left HERE! You missed it!’. Me: ‘No it’s ok it’s quicker this way, there is less traffic, see?’. Diego: ‘This is the worst route you could possibly take’. Funny thing is, we both wanted to get there as quickly as possible. A few years ago my colleague Eve and I wanted to hire an assistant. Eve: ‘Uhm, I didn’t like him that much, he doesn’t have a lot of experience’. Me: ‘I like him, he doesn’t have experience but he’s so passionate’. Eve: ‘Yeah but experience delivers quicker. Me: ‘Yeah but this job is crap anyway, better get someone who feels he’s growing in the position’. Guess what the funny thing is. We both wanted to hire a training assistant that could deliver in the best possible way. We did hire in the end, but much later than we thought we would.
The disagreement never refers to the ultimate goal, which is pretty clear. It refers to how to get there. It’s like saying: ‘My way is better than yours’. So, what’s the best way?
Simple. There isn’t one. When my colleague and I argued over whom to hire as our assistant, I rooted for the passionate guy because I thought passion is motivational for others in the team, too. My colleague rooted for experience because she thought it was safer for us. She preferred safety over motivation. Was motivation better than safety? Only God knows. The real question should be: ‘Did it matter to choose motivation over safety’? Only for my ego, both guys would have been great. We just lost a million hours in pointless discussions.
In my line of work I find myself dealing with a variety of people, from techies who see everything in black and white to creative marketing people with lots of innovative ideas. They always have a reason for wanting to do something a different way. Sometimes we disagree. If I think my idea would accomplish a more profitable result I stand my ground. But if I see that both our ways would achieve more or less the same, I step out of my comfort zone and say: ‘Love it, let’s do what you just said’. Often that hurts my ego. But it makes people feel happy.
When’s the last time you argued with someone over things you both wanted? Why do you think that happened?