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CaughtBetweenRockAndHardPlace - Maximize U

Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

When you’re caught between a rock and a hard place – by Sal Celly

Good morning. Today, I’d like to write about being caught between a rock and a hard place.


What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is, sometimes in life, we come across situations where we are faced with a decision. And the decision has potential alternatives, which are both sub optimal to an extent. For example, this could be in your life, it could be in your work, it could be in your personal situation. But the key is, it’s a difficult situation, and you need to make a decision. And both the options and potentially most of the options are going to be less than perfect. So, what do you do in a situation like that?

Steps Involved

Firstly, acknowledge that it is a tough decision to make. Okay, you may have experienced this. Or if you haven’t, you will, down the road, because life is going to throw some curveballs at you. How do you deal with it? The first step is to remove emotion from the decision. This is easier said than done, because we are emotional, human beings. And for the most part, we make decisions emotionally, and we justify them logically. But the key is to be able to make the decision by looking at the facts and remove emotion from it.

The next step is to list out all the potential options-option number one, option number two, etc. Once you list out the options, then you look at the pros and cons for each of the options. And the best way to do this is to put it down on paper and list out option number one, you divide the paper into two, what are the pros of that option? Option number two, what are the pros and cons of each option. And once you’ve listed the options in writing, discuss that with somebody that you trust-maybe a couple of folks and get their opinion. At the end of the day, two heads are better than one. You can get some feedback, maybe you look at an option that you had not considered before, because you spoke about it with somebody else who had a different perspective. So that is very important.

Once you have done that, then you need to make the decision. At the end of the day, do not get into analysis paralysis, because that doesn’t help. You need to understand that you’re not going to make everyone happy, somebody is going to be less than fully satisfied. And that is okay. The decision does not have to be perfect, but you have to make it and move forward.

Practical Example

I was faced with this in a sales situation where the customer was putting a lot of pressure to provide them with actual pricing on the solution. We were not in a position to do that because the recommended solution for the customer was not a best practice. It was not a standard architecture and as a result, it required additional scrutiny. The customer wanted us to present them with pricing. What do you do in a situation like this? It’s a competitive situation and it’s a large deal.

If you push the meeting out, there’s a risk that the competitor can get in. If you have the meeting but you don’t provide them with pricing, that delays the whole process.  If you give them the pricing, that could be inaccurate and as a result, you’re exposing yourself and your organization to risk, before the final architecture approval has been obtained. If you give them not to exceed pricing, what happens if you have to redo the solution and the price is much higher than what it was before. This is an example of being caught between a rock and a hard place.


As I mentioned, list out the options, decide and figure out the pros and cons of each solution and make the decision because the last thing you want to do is to not decide.  The solution, whatever you decide and the action that you take, may not end up exactly as you expected. On the flip side, the outcome may not be as bad as you thought it was going to be. I tend to lean on the side of truth and honesty and being frank and transparent and open. Communicate the decision in a way that it is not rubbing the other person in the wrong way. That is the topic of another conversation, which is effective communication. As always, this is practical, real life. situational advice.

Let me know what your thoughts are. If you have any questions or feedback, please email us at Thanks


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