With a win-win attitude, we hold to a belief that everyone can win, and all can succeed through the decisions and actions in which we all participate. We care about others and have their interests at heart so they can succeed. But we also care about ourselves so that we succeed at the same time. Decisions and actions are no longer made around “what’s best for me”, as you believe there is ample success available for both you and me. At the dinner table of success, there are ample servings of success and accomplishment for all. We can each have all we desire without impacting another’s portion of success.
With win-win, more is created than if one of the parties had been selfish and worked towards a win-lose situation. One must give up the “I want more than you” attitude and work toward group success. I can remember one of the training seminars I attended a number of years ago. In this exercise, if the two teams could agree on the same answer, both would receive the same amount of points (win-win). However, each team could also get more points if they answered a certain way putting the other team with no points (win-lose). I have to admit, we all played the game with a win-lose attitude. The end result, both teams ended up with far fewer points than if we had looked across the table at the other team and said, “Let’s agree to agree and we will all be further ahead”. Looking back I can see the point of the exercise – at the time, I’m not sure how many of us actually learned the valuable lesson which had been taught that day.
The good news is we may be practicing a win-win attitude more often than we think. Here are a few examples: Have you or someone you know been recognized for an accomplishment or given a promotion and you shared the praise and recognition with all who assisted you to get there? Perhaps you are in a position of authority or have been identified as a leader of a team of your peers – when we give up the “superiority complex” and treat all others the same we are creating win-win situations. Or perhaps with a friend or a spouse, one of you wants to spend your Friday night at the movies, the other prefers to go out for dinner to talk and enjoy the other’s company – so a win-win situation is created when you jointly agree to rent a movie, pick-up dinner from a restaurant you both enjoy and you spend the evening at home eating, talking, and being together while you watch the DVD.
If you are an individual who is insecure it may be hard to overcome the jealousy factor and share in the celebration when another succeeds. Without personal confidence and security, win-win thinking will be difficult to achieve. We can work to change this thinking by looking at ourselves and recognizing the contributions we make, taking responsibility for our life and actions, and taking steps to put a new plan of action in place. As these steps occur, personal confidence and security will increase to the point where we can enjoy others and not feel threatened by their presence.
For individuals with a background in athletics or for a successful salesperson, win-win may be a challenge if their thinking is “I have to be the best and will do everything I can to be on top”. Competition can be healthy as it strives for us to challenge ourselves, to reach down for that last bit of energy available as we improve and stretch ourselves. Competition is healthy when you compete against yourself, yet when your self-worth is only tied to winning, it comes at the expense of others. For you to win, they must lose. Compete against yourself - but remember in the end, having a successful life is much, much more than “winning the gold” or “selling the most widgets”.
Another habit to avoid is comparing yourself to others – you have heard the saying “comparing yourself to the Joneses”. We all have different developmental timetables and will follow different courses in life. If we try to follow someone else’s path, we may find quicksand along the way. Think of all the individuals who purchased something just because the neighbor down the street had one – later to find paying for the toys was more than they could manage. It’s not always simple, but to reach a win-win, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. Develop the confidence to be who you are, even if that is different than others. We are all precious children in God’s eyes and He does not expect us all to be the same. We each have unique talents, skills, and interests – have the courage to pursue and use them.
You may find yourself in a situation where the other party cannot and will not adapt to a win-win type of thinking. They are stuck on “I win, you lose”. At some point, the only option may be to walk away. Removing yourself from the situation, although hard initially, may be better than win-lose, lose-win, or lose-lose situations in the future.
Win-win is a mental habit - habits we know are not always easy to adopt or break. Start slow and work your way up. As you experience the good feelings with each win-win situation in your life, it will be easier to adapt your thinking and actions for the next opportunity. With each win-win situation, you will gain confidence and begin to look at life differently. It may be different for you, but as I gain wisdom, the other things most people strive for begin to follow. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do on this earth – to love and care for others – the ultimate win-win situation? With that thinking and putting it into action – we will all gain our level of success.