The historic agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States, which I talked about in my previous blog, has led me to reflect on how much people with seemingly divergent viewpoints and interests can accomplish by sitting around the table together. In a kind of “eureka moment,” it hit me that the points of pain, tension or resistance in all of our endeavors are actually where the greatest opportunities for progress and change lie.
Have you ever been at the point of giving up on something, only to find that one last effort, one final push, unexpectedly succeeded in achieving your objective? I can tell you that I’ve not only witnessed this phenomenon on various occasions, but experienced it myself in just about every major breakthrough in which I’ve been involved.
So let’s go find the points of pain between GMOs and organics (yes, I said it), or aquaculture and marine ecology, or shale oil producers and environmentalists. Let’s talk directly to the beef industry about the effects of overusing antibiotics and to biofuel producers about the impact of rising corn prices on world hunger, to cite just a few examples. Let’s get around the table and argue out our concerns in a frank but friendly manner, rather than simply launching rhetorical assaults on each other’s camps. And when the negotiations break down, let’s take a breath and get them restarted. And most of all, let’s remember that the points of greatest pain or resistance are the ones that have the potential to yield genuine breakthroughs. So when we think we’ve exhausted our ability to resolve them, and have no more energy left, let’s give it one more go — because in the end that’s how accords are forged that everyone can live with.