Friday, July 30, 2010


After my last three posts on Stephen Covey's 7 Habits (see Deciding, 2/19/10, Goals, 5/4/10, and Priorities, 6/26/10), I decided that I would wait a while before writing another post on the books. But as I've been writing this latest series of posts (starting with Social Change: My View, 6/29/10, and going through Benefiting Others, 7/21/10), I could see a direction emerging and realized that Steven Covey's fourth habit (the next one in the series) fits in very well at this point. He entitles this habit 'Think Win/Win'.

Covey sees his first three habits as basic to personal change and collectively groups them in a section he calls "Private Victory". His fourth habit marks his movement toward habits that he sees as affecting what we do in the world and so this is the first habit he puts in the section he calls "Public Victory".

Stephen Covey claims that there are six 'paradigms of human interaction': Win/Win, Win/Lose, Lose/Win, Lose/Lose, Win, and Win/Win or No Deal. Most of us are familiar with Win/Lose--it's the competitive mentality that is prevalent in this society. Lose/Win is the converse, the 'I give up, you win' mentality, what Covey refers to as 'please or appease'. Lose/Lose is worse--it's the 'if I can't win, you can't either' mentality of embittered revenge. 'Win' is the mentality of the driven person who doesn't care if you lose or win as long as they win--this is also the disaster mentality where someone can only focus on saving themselves and their family.

Win/Win is the cooperative, community vision which assumes that the best possible outcome is one in which everyone wins. This is very closely related to a couple of the principles that I talked about when I started this blog, that we are all selfish and we are all connected (see Two Basic Principles, 6/30/08). Win/Win sees this and sees that, since we are connected, we win as others win. In a very real sense, we can only win when everyone wins.

This 'habit' is based strongly on Covey's first three habits. You need to be proactive and focused in order to be able to keep the promises and commitments you need to do in order to practice Win/Win. Covey claims you need integrity and maturity to be able to 'Think Win/Win'. He defines maturity as "the balance between courage and consideration". Someone with a lot of courage but little consideration probably thinks 'Win/Lose', just as someone with a lot of consideration but little courage probably thinks 'Lose/Win'. Covey believes the 'Lose/Lose' people have neither courage or consideration. In order to practice Win/Win, you need to be able to 'empathically understand' and also be willing to 'courageously confront.' Covey also claims that you need to have an 'Abundance Mentality' to really do Win/Win well. (I plan on writing more on the Abundance Mentality in my next post.)

There's one paradigm that I mentioned above that I haven't covered, and that's what Covey calls 'Win/Win or No Deal'. This lets you have a fall back in case you can't reach an agreement with someone. It means either you come up with a solution or agreement where everyone wins, or you agree to disagree and just go your separate ways. While this isn't always possible, sometimes it makes a difficult situation easier. When it just isn't possible to get Win/Win, this is much better than moving to Win/Lose or Lose/Win.

The most important thing about Win/Win is that it's all about relationships. It's all about building trust. It's all about seeing the possibility of everyone winning. And, yes, it's about benefiting others--and benefiting yourself as part of this. If you see us as all connected, I think that it's the only way to go.

Quote of the Day: "Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as if there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a bigger piece of the pie, it would mean less for everyone else...
"The Abundance Mentality takes the personal joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment of Habits 1, 2, and 3 and turns it outward, appreciating the uniqueness, the inner direction, the proactive nature of others. It recognizes the unlimited possibilities for positive interactive growth and development, creating new Third Alternatives.
"Public Victory does not mean victory over other people. It means success in effective interaction that brings mutually beneficial results to everyone involved. Public Victory means working together, communicating together, making things happen together that even the same people couldn't make happen by working independently..." - Stephen Covey

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