Elizabeth Doty joined the show recently. I hope you listen as we talk about her work with WorkLore and her inspiring and useable book: The Compromise Trap: How to Thrive at Work Without Selling Your Soul.
Elizabeth co-founded WorkLore which works with corporate clients in helping their leaders and teams make their missions real, increasing the engagement, integrity and alignment that make their work bigger than a game.
Compromise and how to do-it, what it entails, what happens in a democracy when you...do not understand its role has been a lively topic this summer and continues now.
It made sense to ask Elizabeth about what could we as a nation do to embrace healthy compromise. I asked her:
We’ve reached the imagination moment in our show. Let’s imagine for a moment, that your assistant waves frantically at you right now. You wave her off...can’t you see I’m on the phone style. But she persists. And she mouthes...It’s President Obama!
Sure enough President Obama has called. And when you speak to him he says:
Elizabeth, you’re spot on. Our nation is engulfed in an unhealthy compromise. We’ve struck too many faustian bargains. What can we do? What are three things we can do right now to transform our choices into healthy compromise?
What do you tell him?
She answered as you would expect anyone to answer who is as clear in her understanding of the answer as Elizabeth is. She answered:
The first one, that may surprise you, is an important stance for us and that’s to ask:
“How are you holding up? How you doing in the midst of all this?”
It’s such a comfort to know that there are leaders bearing up these responsibilities and dilemmas and we get to point out when they’re not doing it.
But that’s the problem. We need to share in the responsibility. And I appreciate the way Obama reframes the conversation to:
“We all have a shared interest in this. We need a budget together. "
That would be the first one, to offer support for him and all the other leaders who are bearing up under these things and stop projecting onto politicians the worst in human nature.
The 2nd is to encourage him and the rest of us to keep redefining the conversation to what do we want to create as a country. What is our worth-enough win as a country.
I’m hearing on both sides, the left and the right, a lot of similar values: personal responsibility, liberty and freedom. There are differences in how we get there.
But what is it we stand for, that is joint, that is that worthy enough win to create together.
And in particular, I would encourage him and the press to experiment in ways of reporting that talks in terms of that worthy-enough win and talks in terms of contributions from each side as opposed to vetting out which side should win. Cause that forces all the dialogue into a polarizing frame.
The last thing I would do is invite citizens to participate and weigh these tradeoffs instead of having to project them on to leaders. So that we have to face these very hard choices. We can point out to other people the very unhealthy compromises but when we deeper into the costs and the realities we’ll be much more aligned when we have to wrestle with these issues ourselves.
I’m very excited by the participative democracy movement that has us doing that, not just voting. Really chewing on budgets and priorities for city councils. We need more of that.
We need keep re-anchoring this conversation to these priorities. And then we can use data to get to the best ‘how’s’.
Good advice for us all as we face these tough choices and find the need to listen, to collaborate and to compromise in a healthy manner.
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Some may say this is inappropriate.
This is politics! And you never discuss politics at Thanksgiving Dinners, backyard barbecues and on a business radio show.
I disagree. As long as only politicians can discuss solutions for our country then those solutions and their interested audiences will remain off-limits, political, for those who make this brand, our country, run. And only politicians, these days that's only career politicians, can discuss those ideas and spoon-feed solutions to the public.
I see our times as an all hands-on-deck opportunity and not a crisis. That opportunity is for each of us to lend our hands, our conversations, our ideas to find and share solutions. In our absence those challenges are left to ideologues, vested interests and politicians of all stripes and partisan persuasion. We...are the only ones with vested interests. And now we have, with social media and the urgency of today, the opportunity to reclaim our place at this table and discuss our ideas to solve our challenges. At the very least, we can listen to a discussion until we are ready to speak up.