Compromise: A secret ingredient to every failure

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Under a magnifier

Meet Andrea. A successful 30 something girl. We will walk with her through her day today and look for some patterns.

It is Wednesday today, the day when Andrea usually goes for her morning yoga in the park. The classes start at 6.30AM so she still has time for a quick shower before she gets into her office. But not today. Today Matt (well, he’s a ‘keeper’) asked her to accompany him for breakfast as he has some important business growth ideas he needs someone to bounce off.

Of course she said ‘yes’. But also, she didn’t want to miss on her morning workout. 5.30AM her alarm clock rings as she decided to wake up half an hour earlier than usually to go for a quick run. Then, she will come back home, take a shower, dress in the most popular dresses and will be ready for the breakfast as promised. Lucky, there is always a way to find a compromise!

As she comes back from her run, she sees her yoga class mates on the way to the park. Just a pinch of disappointment she feels and carries on. As she comes back home, the shower is occupied as Matt couldn’t sleep and now is enjoying the hot water streaming down his hot body. While she has to wait. ‘I could be doing my yoga now’ thinks Andrea as her disappointment starts to grow. As they have breakfast Andrea is only half present. She is a bit annoyed with the whole situation and also disappointed with herself that she is not there for Matt the way she could.

After a not-so-productive breakfast she heads to her office, only to jump at her boss and be informed that her colleague called in sick and there is an urgent meeting she should participate in as his replacement. The work is already pilling at her desk and she had a client call scheduled yet she agrees to cover for Adam. She will call the client later and apologise and it has been quite a while now since she burned the midnight oil so practically, it is ok to make some over-time (of course, unpaid – she understands the crisis economy plus her boss promised they will find a common ground one way or another). Not only she stays at the office late but also she skipped her lunch altogether. She would have to start her cleansing juices routine one more time, but that’s ok. It happens sometimes. Life gets in the way.


When she comes back home, she feels like a failure: she missed her yoga class (who cares about running, she doesn’t even like it that much), she wasn’t there for Matt – even if physically she was, she couldn’t reach her client on or after the scheduled time, skipped her lunch even if she promised to herself that she will never do it again and stayed at the office longer for free. Like an idiot. Building someone else’s fortune. Now, all she wants is to take a hot shower, have a glass of wine and read a good book.

She couldn’t care less at this stage what Matt accomplished today. But, he is there, all excited, so she has to listen to his stories. No wine, no book, a quick shower only as some things one just can’t compromise.

Sounds familiar?

Who is there to decide what can be compromised and what not?

Since we are kids everyone tells us how important compromise is. They even call it ‘the art of compromise’. Why don’t they call it ‘the sophisticated art of shooting yourself in a knee’ as this is what a compromise actually is.

Sun Tzu, the author of ‘Art of War’ teaches that Compromise is half defeat. Think of it for a moment. In order to reach a compromise you need to give up on something that is important to you. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a part of any deal and a subject of negotiation, right?

Now, you may say: Wait, what? Andrea wasn’t negotiating with anyone. Wasn’t she, really? What about herself? Exchanging yoga to jogging, contacting her clients to cover for Adam on his meeting, her healthy lunch for no lunch, coming back home for doing overtime… all of these she had to discuss with herself. And find the middle ground. Also known as excuses. Or explanations. Or reasons.

One thing she didn’t find in the equation was her own needs.

Let me ask you again: Sounds familiar?

Let’s skip forward a few months from now assuming that Andrea’s habit of compromise remains the same.


What do you think happens to her career when she constantly puts her own obligations on the second spot to make sure her boss is happy with her? Not only she may lose some important client relationships yet also gets to be seen as a ‘pushover’ and no one would promote a pushover as obviously they already can’t handle their own responsibilities.

Matt, the ‘keeper’ Matthew. Andrea and him are still a couple and he is amazed how phenomenally supportive she is. Always there for him. Surely, she gained on weight a bit and smiles a bit less but maybe she is just tired, just as she says, as she tried so hard to get that promotion.

Tired? She is f***ing exhausted trying to compromise between being there for her clients, her boss, her Matthew, her mom, her friends who keep telling her how bitchy she is not to make plans with them. Yoga – long gone. She doesn’t even have time for a quick jog any more. No time, no energy. No will. Wine? Oh yes, that she likes, along with some salad that makes her all but not skinnier. When was the last time she read a book, had a massage or did something else to rekindle herself? I think we both know the answer to that.

So, learn from Andrea’s story. If you believe that compromise is good. Think again.

And take these thoughts with you:

Compromise is a secret ingredient to every failure.

Compromise is half defeat.


Last Updated on March 28, 2019

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