As I write this blog post on Friday, July 29th, I watch the news on CNN with a mix of frustration and anger. I know I am not alone. Why can’t the leaders we have elected do their jobs and compromise? In the words of the great pop culture philosopher Larry the Cable Guy, “Git R Done!”

Yet, there is an important object lesson here for marketers, and for anybody who is willing to listen.

How often have we approached decisions as “all or nothing?” Either I get my way, or it’s not worth doing. Is this really the case in most situations? I would posit a resounding “no.” If I can’t get my way, I’m taking my football and going home! That might work for a few kids I know (and sadly, a few adults who shall go un-named!); yet it’s an intractable position that backs us into walls more than it frees us up to move forward.

Sure, if we’re talking about moral principles, there is no gray area for compromise. Yet, the situation in Washington is about ideology and egos.

I believe “all or nothing” is a false choice. There is a middle ground. It’s the concept of un-bundling or un-packing issues. Not too long ago, a company approached me to help with some strategy. They could not pay me what it cost to do everything they wanted at once. I could have walked away. I contemplated it. I liked them and their philosophy was so in line with my own that I felt a connection beyond money. And, I knew that if I helped them, they would be closer to success on an idea that could help people. I stepped back; they didn’t NEED everything all at once. It was a false belief. Marketing is and should be a graduated investment. They could un-bundle their marketing “wish list.” I suggested a strategy facilitation to get them started with some great ideas for moving forward. They could afford that and it would be enough to get them started, build goodwill, and demonstrate my willingness to make this a partnership.

They happily accepted and we both got something valuable from it. If I had played the “it’s my way or no way” card, we both would have lost something. Admittedly, not every prospect is worth it. Some times this approach will not work. The questions you have to ask (as do the politicians) are, “is there something larger at stake than me or the other player?” and “who stands to lose here by an ‘all or nothing’ approach?” In the case of Washington, the losers would be the American people. So listen up, Congress – this is NOT about you. It’s about something bigger than yourselves. An “all or nothing” mentality is often ego-driven and it limits the potential for improved outcomes for more people. Contrast that with the possibilities that open up when we “un-bundle.”

Does an “all or nothing” way of thinking limit your options? Consider the following:

If I can’t write that book my way the first time, it’s not worth doing.
I can’t take on that client because they can’t afford everything they need at once.
I can’t work with this person because it means I will have to yield on something.

How can you un-bundle your approach to business and life to achieve better outcomes for all?