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Insights: The WIN-WIN mentality
March 18, 2008

The WIN-WIN mentality

A number of my most loyal readers picked up the fact that last week’s issue didn’t materialize. Well Insights is supposed to be a weekly newsletter but given there’s no charge for it I feel I am entitled to take the occasional break from writing! (By the way, there’ll be another break next week – this time due to the Easter break).

Last week was one of those weeks where I just had to drop this beloved newsletter from my ‘to do’ list - for two reasons. First, the end of the financial year brought with it the need to attend to a raft of tax and reporting issues. Second, the sale of my previous home has entered a frustrating and potentially litigious stage that has sucked away a lot of my time.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with this week’s newsletter? Well, everything, really. It inspired me to write about something that has always been close to my heart…

…adopting a WIN-WIN mentality.

As I look around at the depressing variety of problems we face in our lives today it strikes me that most, if not all of these, have, at their heart, the same fundamental characteristic... the pursuit of a WIN-LOSE outcome.

For all the good that capitalism has introduced to the world, it has, to my mind, spawned the unfortunate legacy of a fiercely competitive society. We are brought up to believe that our earthly resources are scarce and that if we want our share of the pie, then, of necessity, we have to deny someone else theirs.

Politicians fight each other to gain and sustain positions of power and the privileges that power brings. Businesses pursue competitive advantage at all costs - beating the competition is the big game in town. Career minded employees have to develop a well-honed streak of ruthlessness if they are to outmaneuver their peers in the race to ascend the corporate ladder. Students compete to get the grades they need to ensure they are ahead in the queue for the best employment opportunities. School goers fight to gain access to limited places in the best universities. Parents go to great lengths on behalf of their young kids to secure limited positions in the best schools to enhance their chances of an advantaged life.

Everywhere you look, you will find intense competition for supposedly scarce resources.

But competition’s supposed to be a good thing, isn’t it?

Without competition, surely prices of goods and services would be sky high? Surely life would ultimately become boring and even meaningless, as there would be nothing left to strive for?

Well, yes. I have to admit that competition, per se, is, generally, a desirable characteristic of the world we live in. I’m a great lover of team sports and I would be devastated to have to come to terms with a world without the Super 14, the FA Cup, the Grand Prix, the Olympics and so on.

But in my opinion, it’s not competition, in itself, that is the problem. It’s the way we choose to play the game.

For so many of us, competition means one thing and one thing only. You are either on the winning side or you’re on the losing side. There are winners and there are losers - simple as that. Life is one big game of WIN-LOSE!

The person who is in the process of buying my previous home has a legal background and is attempting to use his familiarity with legal terms to intimidate me into accepting outlandish claims for all manner of supposed defects to fixtures and fittings that I have warranted in the agreement. He chooses not to speak or meet with me but rather to send a continual string of faxes, all steeped in legalese and with veiled threats. He plays hard-ball and chooses not to respond to offers of compromise, no doubt viewing those as a sign of weakness on my part. I’m certain he feels he is playing a game of WIN-LOSE in which, because of his background, he feels the chips are stacked in his favour.

A WIN-LOSE mentality is, to my mind, a recipe for societal disaster on a grand scale. It may have a glittering appeal to those who feel they are suitably equipped to go through life perpetually on the ‘winning’ side. But the glitter is that of fool’s gold, deceptive and hollow. For by choosing to live one’s life by focusing on winning at the expense of others, such a person will, ultimately, attract what they fear most – losing!

Let’s consider one of the most hideous outcomes of the propagation of a WIN-LOSE mentality – and one that we South Africans have had more than our fair share of in the recent past.

I’m talking about crime.

People get involved in crime because they have never been taught about - or learnt to appreciate - the concept of abundance. They are convinced that resources are scarce and they need to rectify the imbalance that exists between life’s ‘losers’ (them) and life’s ‘winners’ (the people they seek to steal from). Drugs, weapons, intimidation and fear are the chosen tools of trade they use to stack the chips in their favour in that game of WIN and LOSE.

Crime is borne out of - and mired in - WIN-LOSE thinking. And it is self-perpetuating.

The victim of a violent housebreaking is more than likely to resort to vicious dogs, 8ft walls, electric fencing and surveillance cameras around their property to try to prevent a repeat of the incident. This behaviour, while perfectly understandable, does nothing to strike at the heart of the problem and merely perpetuates the WIN-LOSE cycle. “If I build a fortress around my home then next time I will win (get to keep what I have) and someone else in the neighbourhood, without all these elaborate defences, is likely to lose instead.” Good Neighbourhood Watches are, to my mind, a far more effective solution, as they embrace the WIN-WIN philosophy with the community, not the individual, at heart.

Unwittingly, people who pursue crime as a way of life find themselves sucked into a life in which they are, ironically, destined to LOSE. A burglary may net them short-term ‘gains’ but eventually they will attract exactly what they fear most – to LOSE. Either they end up in prison or they lose their conscious mind to drugs or other insidious forms of addiction. Worse still, they may lose their life, as they become a crime target for a jealous gang member. OK, enough of the dark side of the WIN-LOSE mentality.

Fortunately, there is an alternative way to approach life. One that guarantees joy, harmony, love and fulfillment.

It’s called The WIN-WIN mentality.

At the heart of the WIN-WIN mentality is an unshakable belief in abundance – faith that the Universe (God, if you prefer) has more than enough of everything to offer all of us on this planet – if only we will take the trouble to ask for it and prepare ourselves properly to receive it.

Adopting a win-win mentality requires us to undergo a paradigm shift. We need to change from believing that there have to be both winners and losers in life to believing that we can all be winners all of the time.

Sure, that will take some doing (especially for the criminally minded) but just think about the rewards! Imagine if every interaction and transaction between humans was conducted in accordance with a mutual desire to ensure WIN-WIN. Imagine what a wonderful world we could live in.

The WIN-WIN approach demands one other critical paradigm shift from us. That is to stop believing that what we have (i.e. material possessions) is the sole determinant of what or who we are in life.

This too, will take some doing, particularly for us South Africans who are perhaps more wedded than most to the idea that the extent and value of our tangible possessions represents the sole measure of our success in this life.

On that note, I’m going to add my usual touch of controversy here by posing a question as food for thought:

Is it possible that South African society has actually attracted high levels of crime precisely because of its attitude towards material possessions (i.e. ‘those who have them are the winners and those who don’t are the losers’)?

Hmm – I’m sure that will attract some comments – but worth thinking about, I hope you’ll agree.

As I see it, the great thing about having this ‘debate’ is that it may serve to open our collective eyes to a new way of living – one in which the common pursuit of WIN-WIN allows us to truly enjoy and appreciate the beauty, the diversity and the riches of this amazing country while living in perfect harmony with each other!

Let’s at least give it a try.

Starting tomorrow, I invite you to start cultivating and applying a WIN-WIN mentality in all your dealings with others. Think, not only, of how your own actions and those of others affect your fortunes, but think about how others are impacted too. Accept what might seem, at the time, like a little less, if the common good you create is a little more.

Follow this approach for a few weeks and see how your life – and those of others around you - slowly transforms. Lead by example in your workplace; insist on this philosophy from your politicians; teach your kids the value of adopting a WIN-WIN approach and tell them to expect it from their friends.

And here’s one for me… start to appreciate how the Stormers losing to the Bulls might actually be a win for the game of rugby! (Mmm – I realize I have some work to do here!).

By the way, teaching a WIN-WIN philosophy and the associated concept of ‘fair exchange’ is a fundamental element of the New Insights Life Coach Training Programme.

If the whole idea of promoting fair exchange and a WIN-WIN approach to life excites you, it may be that you are cut out to become a great life coach!

If so, why not consider studying, in your own time and at your own pace, to become a valued New Insights Certified Life Coach? Our programme makes it easier than you may think, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and is a lot of fun.

In short, we like to believe that it constitutes a great WIN-WIN deal.

Go ahead, take a closer look at our website, or give us a call today.

Till next week…

Warm regards


New Insights Africa Life Coaching Skills Training - Putting an Extraordinary Business within reach of Passionate People.

If you think you are Life Coach material why not study, at your own pace and in your own time, with New Insights Africa? If you have the passion, we have the skills, knowledge and support to offer you. Please visit our website.

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