Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice’

Once we know our value (and truly believe in it…if you don’t, go back and reread before continuing), know what we need and determine what everyone else needs, we must talk about sacrifice before we negotiate.

Don’t do it. That’s my advice to you.

Sacrifice is a loaded word. People equate it with saints and martyrs and heroes. However, sacrifice is the stuff of losers. People do it when they don’t value who they are.

My good friend Merriam Webster defines sacrifice as “loss.” Sacrifice is giving up something of value for something of lesser value. But I’m not talking money.

In The Power of One by Bryce Courtney, seven-year-old Peekay arrives in Barbertown, South Africa, with an aptitude to learn, but no structure. Doc, an aging German botanist discovers Peekay’s quick intelligence and curiosity and takes him under his wing to teach him. Peekay’s mother initially objects because she cannot afford to pay for the lessons and won’t take charity. But Doc suggests that Peekay accompany him on day trips into the South African hills to gather rare cacti. Exchanging education for digging in the dirt might seem like a sacrifice. But to an aging botanist, value is someone who can operate a spade with the strength and precision necessary to move rare plant specimens and who can document his findings meticulously. Doc is no saint. He has needs. And by understanding the needs of Peekay and Peekay’s mother, he gets what he wants.

Later in the book Peekay jumps in front of a prison sargeant’s kick, which was meant for Doc’s ribs. While recovering in the hospital, Peekay is confused to find himself lauded as a hero. “Doc was the most important person in my life, and the thought of him [being hit] was unbearable.”

To Peekay, Doc’s health and well being is of utmost value. Not because he doesn’t value his health and well being, but because he has evaluated (quickly) all possibilities of that exchange. To the aging and fragile Doc, that physical injury would potentially have been lethal. Whereas for the young and healthy Peekay, it just meant some temporary pain and discomfort.

Evaluating the possibilities works best using two simple words: “if” and “then.” “If this happens, then that will result.” It’s not difficult; it’s basic science and human nature.

What is difficult is making sure you take into account all the possibilities, including time. That’s because not everything of value is instantaneous. Sometimes results take awhile, but end up being more valuable. And negotiation is all about value. Evaluating the possibilities is simply a way to find out how to generate the most value for you and for the person with whom you are negotiating.

For example, I was asked to work on a project that needed some extra time at work. I value my job, but I also value my personal time. After careful evaluation, I chose to work the extra time in exchange for a bonus personal day. So in return for giving three extra hours to work on a cold, dark December evening, I received eight hours of time that I used to go hiking in the spring. My company got their work done in a more condensed timeframe, and I got more than double my personal time. Definitely doesn’t make me a martyr, wouldn’t you agree?

But then again, I don’t ever want to be one.

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