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Habit Number 4: Think win/win

Think win/win - enough for all.

Think win/win – enough for all.

Would you do something for me? Take a wee minute and have a good scout around inside your soul. Poke into the dark and dusty corners into which you would prefer others not to venture. Ask yourself this question, and be really honest with yourself about your motives:

How often do I go into a situation/relationship looking for what I can get out of it?”

If you are human – and I am guessing that you are if you are taking time to read this – you will recognise that that response is indeed sometimes the case. It is a very human tendency to look to what we can get out of a situation – be it a bargain or a cheap/better deal, kudos or recognition, our emotional needs met. Or, put it more bluntly, we look to win.

Equally, you might ask yourself this:

How often do I go into a situation seeking to be helpful or make the peace, but end up feeling that I have been walked over?”

People pleasers, appeasers, those coming from a place of feeling the victim, those struggling with low self confidence and self worth – again, very human tendencies that we will all recognise. Allowing others to dominate, bulldoze all over us, take advantage of us and our insecurities can be an all-too-common outcome of a situation or relationship. In other words, to lose.

This is what is at the basis of Habit Number 4 – Think Win/Win. This one can be hard to get your head round, beyond it sounding really aggressively competitive and sport-related. And my opening comments this week might seem especially harsh and polarising. After all, life isn’t as black and white as this is it – you can’t divide life into winners and losers.

But to ‘win’ in the context of the Think Win/Win paradigm is NOT about selfish triumphalism or personal, individualistic gain.

Far from it.

This is about living life from a starting point that there is plenty for everyone. Having an abundance mentality, a generosity of character and spirit.

This is the idea that one person’s success does not need to be achieved at the expense or exclusion of anyone else.

I don’t have to trample over you to get what I want. Nor do I have to let you trample over me. There is enough for us both, and we can work together to allow us both to flourish.

This fits perfectly coming after Thanksgiving. Now I am Scottish through and through (and a wee bit Danish) but have some American friends, and I love the tradition of Thanksgiving. To take some time with your nearest-and-dearest, with friends old and new, and express thanks for the abundance of the harvest. And to share that abundance, even as you express individual thanks for what the year has brought you.

For me, this is the spirit of Habit 4. When we can see what we have and what we can do, and live from a place of thankfulness, we can truly seek Win/Win, which is mutual benefit and satisfaction in all our encounters.

This of course is all about character.

To constantly seek mutual benefit and mutual satisfaction in any relationship or situation takes

security in who we are, integrity in our behaviour, and a clear understanding of our own values.

It also takes maturity. In Dr Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he quotes a Harvard professor from 1955:

emotional maturity is the ability to express one’s own feelings and convictions balanced with consideration for the thoughts and feelings of others.”

This is about being secure in who you are, and at the same time valuing the other person and seeking to understand where they are coming from. This fits so well with team coaching – having a shared goal that all parties are working together toward rather than each seeking individual gain.

How might win/win work out in practice?

This is extending from Dr Covey’s work slightly, but for me, these are some of the outworkings of living with an abundance mentality where there is plenty for everyone:

  • replace “I have to….” with “I get to…” in your thinking and see how that shifts your perspective. What does that prompt you to be thankful for? What does that allow you to see about your circumstances and strengths that enable you to give with your best rather than perhaps begrudgingly?
  • do you live more with a spirit of entitlement or generosity? Pay attention to that little mind worm of ‘what do I get out of this’ and replace with ‘what can I give here?’
  • what can you do, and what do you have and how secure are you in that, as you go into encounters with people that require some kind of resolution?

A win/win abundance mentality of mutual benefit for all is not a bad way to start Advent.

Inspired? Encouraged? Get in touch!

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