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The non-negotiables

"I have a daughter."

That was how he explained to me his reasoning for needing a certain job making a certain income. It was clear he wouldn't budge on the issue. It was his non-negotiable.

In business and in life, we operate by a set of non-negotiables. We will do well to know what our non-negotiables are. It will help us make the right decisions for our career, as well as remind us what's important when it comes to other choices.

I have a friend getting a Ph.D. His advisor was asking him about his career moves and goals, and he shared them. She thought he was aiming too low and suggested other options. He took them in and replied, "Those sound like great possibilities. Let me share them with my wife and see how that shapes our plans."

The advisor immediately asked, "What would you decide if you weren't married?"

Wisely, my friend answered, "I am married."

She pushed him. "But what if you weren't?"

"But I am. And that shapes how I make decisions."

For my friend, his relationship with his wife is a non-negotiable. There is no wistful pondering about single life. His advisor might as well have asked, "What if you were a woman?" or "What if you were Asian?"

It will be easier to decide where to live and what jobs to apply for if we are in touch with ourselves and know what our non-negotiables are. For some, it may be a flexible schedule. For others, they need the stability of a salary and benefits. Some may need homes and jobs that allow pets; other want the chance to innovate or the opportunity to leave work to watch a recital.

Once you find your set of non-negotiables, be rigid in their implementation. That's why their not up for negotiation. Then, you can be flexible in everything else. This will also establish your sense of values, which is also known as "knowing what matters."

So then - what are your non-negotiables?

Photo by: Kjunstorm

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