My coaching client Cyd wanted to change jobs. Cyd’s work was OK, but not really inspiring. The pay was OK, but not really inspiring. The people? Ok, but not really inspiring. The big benefit of the job, however, is that it was a ten-minute drive from home. Cyd has children and feels very strongly about being close to home.

Cyd crafted a resume, created a LinkedIn profile, and started looking for jobs in nearby neighborhoods. Soon, discreet job inquiries also began flowing in through friends and past colleagues. One especially attractive one offered a 20% higher salary and flex time to work from home. It was also 30 minutes away.

But for Cyd, the tradeoff was worth it. Right before signing on the dotted line, I cried “Stop!” Stop? Why? Because Cyd had compromised, and compromise opens up new opportunities.

Compromise Highlights Flexibility

When starting the job hunt, “10 minutes or closer” seemed like an absolute limit. But when the offers started coming in, Cyd discovered that mountains of cash and work-from-home flex time made the 10-minute drive less important.

This often happens when making decisions. We seek out options that fit what we think we want. Then we get an option that we find acceptable, even though it violates one or more of our guidelines. In that moment, the compromise we’re willing to make opens up new possibilities. Rather than just accept the compromise, scan the landscape using the new criteria. Look for other options that might have initially been overlooked.

Cyd now knows that a higher salary and the ability to work from home can make commute time less important. It’s time for another trip to the job boards and listings, this time to search for opportunities more than 10 minutes away. The caveat is that those jobs must pay a lot more, or have much more flexible work arrangements. Cyd settled on a job 20 minutes away, with 2 days a week of working from home, and a 10%-higher base salary.

Let Compromise Widen Your World

When you’re making a decision, train yourself to pause before you finalize your decision. Review the compromises you’ve made along the way. Then pretend you’d made those compromises from the very beginning, and find out if that changes your approach.

If you end up willing to pay a particular vendor a 30% premium for on-time deliver, stop. Ask yourself which other vendors you could hire for 30% more than you originally expected to spend. You might discover there are vendors who have higher base costs, but a lower premium for on-time deliver, resulting in lower overall costs.

Compromise may be necessary to get a deal done, but it should never be the final step. Compromise tells you where you’re flexible in your criteria, and you can then use that flexibility to uncover new options you would never otherwise consider.

Compromise is the Doorway to Opportunity

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