My Way or the Highway

Long RoadAt some point in our lives we have all probably heard those words or at least it was inferred to us.  Perhaps we have used those very words ourselves in letting someone know “how it is going to be.”

Well, what if there is a better way than giving an ultimatum to someone?  What if instead of a “MY way or the highway” mentality, we had a “Not MY way, but a HIGHER way” mentality?  What would that look like?  How would it work?  Is it even possible?

Consider this: when you give someone an ultimatum of your way or the highway, you have closed your options and if there is any resistance, you have lost the race before you got out of the gate.  Some people will just quietly submarine your idea when your back is turned and plead innocence when confronted.  Others will out flat reject your idea right up front.  Who wins in that scenario? Nobody likes being cornered, and the ultimatum should be the very last line of defense….not the first topic of discussion. (I am not talking about dealing with small kids here. I am talking about teens and adults).

What have you got to gain with a “Not MY way, but a HIGHER way” mentality?

  • You realize that YOU might not have all the answers and actually open yourself up to a better idea than you could have come up with yourself.
  • You keep communications open with other people and keep them engaged in finding a mutually agreeable solution. That is actually what you want in the first place….isn’t it?
  • You get out of the mindset that it is all about YOU and what YOU want.  It NEVER is just all about YOU.  It NEVER is….remember that.  You don’t live on an island by yourself more than likely, so it helps to have healthy interaction with those that work for you, work with you, and that you live with. That will only happen if you have open two-way communications that are mutually respectful.
  • The HIGHER way mentality puts other opinions above your own. It puts their needs above your own.  It puts their fears to rest and their minds to work in finding a solution that everyone can live with.
  • The HIGHER way creates teamwork, inspires loyalty, and increases productivity. Ultimatums fuel disappointment, disengagement, resentment, and chaos in the work force.

Next time you get tempted to lay the law down to someone, take a deep breath and ask yourself if there is not a HIGHER way that could be considered.  You might be pleasantly surprised at how people around you respond to that. Whether it is your family at home or your “family” at work, it is worth it to treat them with kindness, respect, and honor. When we as leaders do that for others, that says a lot about our own emotional intelligence…and it reflects on us in a good way. It sets the tone for the organization, and it that starts at the top of a company, it breeds community and a healthy outcome is inevitable.


Dan Skognes

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