Saturday, April 20, 2013


Admittedly, there's a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement... ...Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it's a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." There is a point beyond which they must not advance. 

It was Sam's dream job. It would mean a move across country, and sacrifices for his family, but it would enable him to do what he'd always wanted to do. All Sam's hard work had finally paid off.

Still, before accepting, Sam decided he needed to make a list of "non-negotiables." These were things that would be deal breakers: things he/his family could not live with. These were things he could not accept: no matter how much he liked the position; no matter how money was offered. As much as Sam wanted this job, there was a price he would not pay: certain things he would not sacrifice.

His list of deal breakers included 10 specifics. Among them: he would not stay at the office past 7 pm; he would not work on Sunday; he would maintain a base salary; he would get raises at certain intervals; he would have a private office; he would not compromise certain ethical standards.

During a conference call, even before he was offered the job, Sam communicated these the HR officer reviewing his hiring. A week later, the VP of the company called to offer Sam the position, and at almost twice the financial package he was expecting.

"What about my non-negotiables? The list of 10 specifics that need to be in place before I can accept?" asked Sam.
"Sure, that shouldn't be a problem," the VP said, "You have my word."
"Great," said Sam, "Can we put that in writing?"
"Not necessary," the VP said, "I gave my word. Do you accept?"
"In writing," Sam answered, "Or, no."
"OK, OK" the VP answered, "Fax the specifics to my assistant. I'll make them part of your contract."

Since the company really wanted Sam, the VP readily agreed. Sam later learned that the VP had not even really known what the "non-negotiables" were.

Two weeks after Sam was hired, the VP took early retirement. A week later, Sam's boss was transferred to another department. Almost immediately, Sam's new boss called for a switch to 6 day weeks, with everyone being required to work on Sundays at least monthly. When Sam looked at the new schedule, he found his name down for 3 Sundays in a row. He told his new boss this must be a mistake; his boss agreed to let him have Sundays off, but threatened him with a pay cut. Sam took out his "contract" showing that he would not be asked to work on Sunday. The boss hung his head, and from that day forth, treated Sam with special respect.


The situation Sam faced is writ large and small in all of our lives.

Every relationship (business, personal, friendship, romance) includes, early on, a phase of negotiating. Often, we don't realize that such negotiations are taking place. We assume we will have the opportunity to make our needs/demands known in the future. This is bad business, and inevitably leads to problems. It would be better to be too demanding at the beginning, and loosen up later on. What we don't demand, we concede.

We should know what our non-negotiables are, and demand them BEFORE beginning a relationship. Non-negotiables are a list of expectations and demands that are NOT negotiable. They constitute the conditions under which we are willing to "do business."

To discern our non-negotiables we should ask these questions:
1) What can I live with?
2) What can I not live with?
3) What must be in place for me to accept this proposal?
4) What are the principles and values that must be respected before I can agree to this?
5) What are my "rules of engagement" -- the specific things that must be in place before I can enter a relationship/partnership/deal?

There's an old saying, "Do business how business is done." The connotation is: if everyone is cheating, we must also cheat. But there's a better way to do business: we demand that business be done a certain way, or else refuse to do business at all.

We should know what our agenda is, and demand it, at the BEGINNING of any kind of negotiation. If you set your agenda early, you won't have to set it often. What we don't demand, we give away. And, what we give away, we will find hard to recover. We'd like to think that people are friendly and kindly enough that they will make reasonable concessions at some future date -- but, if we really care about something, we need to demand it in the present. What we don't demand, we concede.

We need not do business how business is done. We can decide how business is done.

Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
- Winston Churchill
Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we'll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he'll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer—not an easy answer—but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right. 
...Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Now let's set the record straight. There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace —and you can have it in the next second — surrender. 
Admittedly, there's a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face—that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand—the ultimatum...You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin—just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs?
...Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it's a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." There is a point beyond which they must not advance.
- A Time For Choosing, Ronald Reagan
I am sure that if every leader who goes into battle will promise himself that he will come out either a conqueror or a corpse he is sure to win. There is no doubt of that. Defeat is not due to losses but to the destruction of the soul of the leaders. 
-Gen. George S. Patton, in a letter to his twenty-year-old son

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