Always Negotiate


I negotiate a lot. With a lot of people. Even with Death.

But most of all, I negotiate with myself.

Some of these negotiations are torturous, agonizing, and their outcome is uncertain till the very end.

Towards the end of last year, I had to do it a lot. I found myself up at ungodly hours, wide awake, mind racing with uncomfortable questions about my career and professional future.

These words from Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement address on June 12, 2005 kept haunting me…

“… for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Dissatisfaction with my situation reared its unfriendly head.

At times, fear and uncertainty took firm hold of my thoughts.

I even Googled it to see if I was in the throes of a “mid-life crisis” – and wondered if I should look up prices on the red Ferrari I’d dreamed of owning as a teenager!

And the alternative seemed seductive, appealing. The lure of the familiar and comfortable was strong. The case in favor of seeking it was good, almost convincing.

But there was something lacking in that option.

The thrill. The challenge. The spark of passion. That was missing.

And so I negotiated. With myself. Bought me some time before I’d have to decide.

It was quite a relief when I won that argument! 🙂

That’s when the magic happened.

It was almost as if my Universe and Lady Luck had been waiting with bated breath to see which side would win.

Over the last week, I’ve had some remarkable coincidences happen.

  • A friend from Japan called to invite me to discuss some plans that relate to an alternative career path I’d been considering – one he’s involved in, has contacts in, and might even like me to collaborate on.
  • A cousin who is working on (what I believe is) the most fascinating project in the world showed me areas where his work might overlap with the new plan which will be my focus through 2015 – and could throw up amazing synergies.
  • Another friend called on New Year’s day to talk about how life really was “on the inside” of the safe alternative I’d been considering – and explained how miserable he was, thinking about when he could escape from the trap!

And it all happened only AFTER I had negotiated – and won.

Too often, we refuse to negotiate.

With employers, employees and stakeholders.

With friends, family and colleagues.

With life… and with our own self.

Y’know what? Maybe we should.

Maybe it’s worth putting in the time and effort to make a clear case in support of what your heart seeks.

Maybe it takes that attempt at clarity and conviction before your mind says “Ok, go for it!”

And then, you get to follow your passion, chase your dreams, listen to your heart and intuition.

Do what you love and enjoy the most.

When you don’t negotiate, the “other side” wins.

And that’s a shame, isn’t it?

P.S. – There’s a flip side. You’ve got to do your part, give what you agreed upon during the negotiation. I promised myself to give it my best shot – and that’s what my year ahead will be about.