I like getting my own way.
Most people, save for the martyrs, the masochists and the most sacrificial among us, probably feel the same way.
When things go as we expect or plan, we are prepared for the consequences. The road map takes us on a journey and to a destination we’ve chosen.
But in many ways, life rarely goes as planned. Instead, we’re called upon to roll with calamity and divergent actions. We’re forced to deal with someone else’s preference.
And sometimes that sucks.
Last night I had the pleasure of hearing a German diplomat talk a bit about the narcissism of minor differences. The premise, coined by Sigmund Freud, says that people sometimes let the smallest of nuances act as a barrier between developing partnerships.
Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Fischer discussed the concept and how it sometimes acts as a barrier between Europe and the United States; it’s a concept that sometimes acts as a barrier right here in Cincinnati, too.
With the narcissism of minor differences, it’s possible to be blinded by our own plans, our own ideas, our own priorities. That blindness conceals the bigger picture and hides from us the many other angles and facets at play.
We fail to realize that another solution is a worthy one, even if it isn’t ours.
I, for one, have been guilty of letting subjective preferences lead my drive.
On a few of those occasions, I’ve had to step back and let my passion subside so that I could look at an issue objectively and rationally. Those moments usually led to the admission that compromise was the best way to move forward.
I won’t say it didn’t sting, but it did feel good to commit to a decision the entire team could celebrate.
In politics, in our communities, in our work and in family – ego has a way of thwarting a connection. A strong person champions an idea or effort, but reason stands an even stronger person has the capacity to relinquish a bit of pride and lead a compromise that serves the cause over the person.
“Perfect is the enemy of good,” is one of my favorite expressions for endeavors involving team work.
So often a group can get sidetracked by minutia when they should be focused on the end result. In many cases, the finished product is all that really counts, not the process that led the team there.
Fischer’s talk reminded me that my own personal agenda can sometimes serve as a road block, when instead I should commit to looking at the bigger picture and the commonality I can find with others.