Friday, May 21, 2010


There are those that say that settling is the same as compromise.  I do not believe that.  For me, compromise is when you give up a little because the eventual goal is worthwhile and what you have given up is not worth fighting over because you know the final outcome is too important to lose.

I have never felt that compromising was based on fear.  Compromise feels like an informed decision to me.  I once heard a professor who teaches Negotiating at Stanford Business School say that you should never go into a negotiation without a "plan B" with which you are perfectly comfortable.  If you do, you will negotiate out of fear.

That is what settling is for me.  Settling for anything in life is choosing something because you are petrified of the alternative.  It is a decision based on fear of what will happen if you don't settle.  I think settling is what you do when you are afraid that you are not good enough for the real thing, whatever that may be.  Of course, there are times whether it be economic necessity or other dire circumstances where you truly have no choice, but I am not talking about those times.

When my sons were each in first grade they had the absolute gift of having the same first grade teacher that I had.  She was one of the most amazing teachers that I had ever had and I was fortunate enough to have her return to teach my children.  She had the students put on a Holiday program of the Nutcracker.  Mind you, they were only in first grade, but she had them singing in harmony and memorizing very sophisticated lines.  I asked her, "Aren't they kind of young for this?  Can they really handle such an advanced program at this age? Won't they be disappointed if they can't do it?"  She told me that you always set the bar high and she had yet to see a child that didn't meet the bar or exceed it.  She was right.  Not only did the children put on the most incredible program, they were in awe of themselves.  They were so proud of what they had accomplished.

I guess that's how I think about settling.  If you are afraid to disappoint yourself or others or if you are just "afraid" of whatever it is, you settle.  Sometimes, you just feel like you aren't good enough for what you really want and you should be happy with settling.

I think that's the time to really look at what you are so afraid of and why.  I actually can't think of a time in my life where settling turned out to be a positive experience.  What I do remember are the times that I didn't settle and those were the moments or the experiences that differentiated "existing" and "living" for me.

I guess it's all a choice that each of us has to make day in and day out.

I can still hear the words of the teacher who set the bar for me and my sons and I can tell you, they really were words to live by.