We have spent time before talking about how important it is to have alternatives in negotiations. They give you backup plans in case things don’t go how you anticipated. It’s important to remember, though, that some alternatives are not mutually exclusive. You can find one alternative and blend it with another course of action to find the best solution to your problem.
The following is an excerpt from the book “Dare to Prepare” by Ron Shapiro and Gregory Jordan. It shows how finding alternatives helped create an idea that became Shapiro Negotiations Institute.
One morning in the winter of 1992 my wife, Cathi, and I took a walk on a beautiful Caribbean beach. I had reached a point in my life where the practice of law had lost its allure for me. I was suffering from a common case of legal burnout. Being tied to a time sheet had less appeal than ever as my other business ventures were growing. During the walk, we laid out the professional and lifestyle alternatives that I could explore. The most profound thing that Cathi said to me was that she noticed how much I loved to teach. Teaching in an academic institution didn’t appeal to me since I’m an entrepreneur at heart. We brainstormed other teaching alternatives after looking at precedents set by people with similar interests.
Weighing alternative careers allowed me to feel that I could take control of my life. The mere exercise allowed me to understand that I did not have to leave one thing to do another. So a walk on the beach led to my recognition that I could stay associated with my law firm as an adviser, continue with my sports firm, and channel my passion for teaching into the founding of what would become the Shapiro Negotiations Institute. I could then be an entrepreneur, add income and excitement, and complement my other endeavors. Alternative outcomes are not mutually exclusive; sometimes you can set your strategy to attain a result that is a combination of them.