When Being “At Odds” Is Good [Compromise v Clarity]

Invariant structure is the jumping off point for variation! So, we are back to square one: ambiguity. This time though, clarity, via integrity of underlying structure, is present too. Successfully resolved ambiguity can be understood in terms of clarity.  That’s a good thing. But there’s another term that cannot be avoided when it comes to assumption-busting:  compromise.

Talk about assumptions and ambiguity! Compromise is absolutely fraught. So first, let’s frame clarity and compromise. Resolving ambiguity forever, through always speaking - and listening – with utter clarity, is not feasible for anyone. On the other hand, always compromising is a formula for failure, or worse yet, resignation and despair. OKIC says, we can and do work with this, let’s do it with gusto now.

Put a problem in front of us, and we understand that, in order to get to the bottom of a particular assumption-based problem or conflict, some disambiguation, which includes questioning the assumptions underlying certain terms we use, will be needed.

So what distinguishes:

  • clarity achieved through sensible compromises, where certain terms are repurposed or different ones with similar meanings chosen


  • compromise sought for the purpose of relieving tension, lifting us out of conflict, stopping a process of disambiguation?

Both involve dis-ambiguation. The first is motivated by clarity, where clarity seems to be available as a stopping point for disambiguation. The second is motivated by alleviation of inner or outer conflict or tension caused by disambiguation itself. At base then, despite the promises of OKIC, we encounter a lack of confidence that clarity itself is possible, so compromise might be considered a reasonable approach to getting out of a potentially deadlocked situation.

Both also require compromise. Compromise on what we mean. The difference is that, through clarity in myself, I recalibrate terms and their meanings (when meeting others in what they mean) and am also maintaining my sense of self, autonomy, inner truth. Oddly, only by being true in some seemingly external way can I 1) have the sense of my meanings mattering AND 2) experience clarity. This is where Outer Kaleidoscope, Inner Compass shines.

Scientology has made a religion of appointing others to measure how “clear” a member is, which makes it a showstopper for anyone (most people) reticent to hand the clarity of one’s self over to another. The difference between being judged “clear” by another and clarity-based disambiguation with OKIC is as dramatic as night and day. In OKIC, one’s own sense is always the guide, as nature intended it to be. The catch is, OKIC clarity can be fleeting if one stops at compromise and preference not to disambiguate instead of leaning into the experience of “I don’t have confidence in x, y, or z so I shouldn’t be expected to question assumptions any further.”  With OKIC, meaning-wise, in evaluating my own experiences I can celebrate the compromises I reach in myself as far as updating my assumptions and meanings because I have clarity about how they can be re-blended back in regardless of the clarity of others and ensuring diversity and me-inclusion moving forward.

First though, there’s a burning question to address: Why do we make assumptions? It is a truly fascinating question that would take us, if we dared, into the depths of metaphysical philosophy. I shall spare us though – with another figure (of many to come).

There’s a saying in English: “two out of three ain’t bad.” It’s used as a form of encouragement. A person might be facing a hard task. Or, facing hard times, not able to do their personal best and showing up for the task nevertheless.

“Trippy Triptych”
“Trippy Triptych”

Viewing the two-out-of-three as space-filling with colors and shapes, like that depicted in the triptych above, two out of three makes a unique pattern. The third becomes the underlying assumption of “good enough.” Which also reveals the source of the sticky problem of ambiguity. Holding a reasonable assumption is likely to give us “good enough.” Like the non-BLT sandwiches on offer earlier.

To grasp the encoded, generative wisdom underlying OKIC, understand that the three are actually all EXACTLY THE SAME PATTERN. The other thing you may observe is that missing such an insight is where the potential for and PATTERNING OF deceptiveness (self or other) and hiding (deeply or in plain sight) begins.

Assumption-making is a necessary part of the human condition. Moreover, optimal conditions for flow and adaptation of all kinds are not always present. We normalize to less than optimal, assumption-friendly regimes. We show up and optimize to sub-optimal priming, puffing ourselves up on our preferences, experiences, triggers, and sense-making mechanisms and devices.

The universe, in serving our best interests within the whole of existence and, yes, often seemingly in spite of the concerted efforts we make at total personal control and autonomy, is primed through and through with wiggle room.

In the triptych version above, consider (in the abstract) where two people face the same situation. One perceives the purple and red dynamic. The other perceives the red and green dynamic. If together they discover the purple and green dynamic, they unlock a new optimum. Separately occupying their assured assumption, unbeknownst to them, they would have been settling for an ambiguous if situationally-true story. Together revealing the missing dynamic, a timeless tale is seen as laying behind the false truth of certain assumptions.

Of particular importance is the irony of finding commonality and reaching compromise when clarity may be more useful. If one or both are able to identify “we have red in common,” this recognition is likely to be experienced as a release of tension, exacting some degree of relief in the related conflict. In the terminology of this book, they have disambiguated enough to ease the bind and realize their predicament.

Considering the triptych model and the introduction so far to OKIC, the position represented by such a commonality can be characterized as a “not bad” kind of good.  Thus stopping here amounts to a compromise. Whew! A relief of tension and a tempting place to stop, smile and nod, and pivot to the next challenge.

Accepting recognition of a common predicament as “good enough” is in effect an agreement to not work harder than the minimum needed to conclude “not bad” not push the matter iso clarity. Sometimes it is enough, as even a shift of this sort tends to lower the thresholds to working through a problem (alone or together) in the moment. It may help establish clearer boundaries, new approaches, or policies to adopt.

“Good enough” is not the only outcome for identifying commonality. Predicaments, when taken as an opportunity to reinforce what is working well, is not a bad thing (lame compromise). A common form of default decision-making embedded in predicaments is the timeless game rock – paper – scissors. [develop]

Reinforcement has a couple of advantages, a big one being the experience of less ambiguity. The experience may be fleeting, but nevertheless we gravitate toward it when assumptions are brought into question. It’s not necessarily a problem to temporarily experience less ambiguity. What is a problem is that in doing so, we end up with a bigger rut, because it is shared with others. This phenomena has important and deeply non-intuitive implications to OKIC and beyond and is detailed in the chapter titled Rational Roulette.

In the OKIC approach however, resolving a predicament this way – through disambiguation, application of constraints, questioning assumptions – does not necessarily meet the larger goal of integration, the focus of Section 2 of the book. You don’t get credit for being willing to compromise. In fact, it’s likely a bad idea.

Remember, there’s a new optimum available of combining – bringing into commonality – all three behaviors (red, purple and green). While the parties of a conflict, ambiguous communication, or reinforcement strategy may be able to navigate the predicament, the assumptions are necessarily resolved through reinforcement of already patterned (though ignored or forgotten as such) commonality. Relating to necessity itself as a necessary feature of both binds and predicaments is one thing that makes OKIC a unique, incisive, and complete tool.

Referring back to the first figure with the three overlapping circles, choosing reinforcement through resolution moves the parties from predicament back to the XYZ Bind. Even though there’s a participant-noticed shift of less ambiguity plus new information, the system-wide shift is that the tension retracts (see Figure features and progressions) back to the bind.