Moving into the clarity of grey

April 3, 2018 by

Some people find comfort in black and white opinions. I find comfort in grey.


A while back I admitted that I was bad at contracts. I know I need to make them, sure, but that doesn’t mean I will love them or won’t mourn a little of my haphazard but contract-free zone.

Solidly grey opinion right?

Yes, and I got my fair share of mini-lectures from people who love contracts, suggesting I should be careful not to romanticise a world where the rules aren’t omnipresent.

And then there was my post about ethical omnivores uniting with vegans to fight a common enemy. Not them and us, but good old grey against industrial animal farming. I’m nervous even mentioning it in case I get sent the same amount of vitriol again, not from unthinking meat eaters but the vegans themselves. One even told me I should walk off a bridge.

Why do some try so hard not to wear grey in life, and even more so in business? Grey people say life is complicated, yes. There’s no simple path toward the correct answer, no. Why not move forward anyway, together into the grey?

Intrinsic to so much of business is this kind of complexity: schisms between staffing and revenue, between individual needs and the needs of the business as a whole, between decisions that might limit revenue but follow an ethical line. Grey means understanding both sides of an argument, embracing complex decision making, accepting a collision of ethics, guilt, habit, history, blindness and passion.

Moving forward with grey requires decision making that rests less on clear lines and more on clarity of purpose. If you know why you’re doing what you are doing, then even when the answers aren’t black and white, acknowledging the grey brings power.

It brings power even to the grey in your thoughts, in your mishaps and semi-successes. Sure, you might need them all to actually surface for this to happen, but think of all the grey-ish friends you’ll make.

Let me be clear, your grey friends will not be wish-washy. They will be brave. And the decisions they make aren’t rash, they’re challenging. Grey people will say, bring on the pain and the questions! the salutes and the condemnation. To avoid these is like avoiding a bandaid that needs ripping off.

Go on, rip it off. After the shearing pain, your skin will start to breath.

Stay up to date on the food community

Would you like to receive information straight to your inbox about food business, news and other Wandering Cooks events? If so, sign up and we’ll make sure to keep you in the loop.