Jun 27, 2009

If Each of Your Assets is Not Benefiting from a Decision You're Making, it's Not a Win Win

The commitment to living the Win/Win philosophy has perhaps changed my life more than any other single idea.

The Win/Win philosophy, if you’re living it completely, means you’ll never intentionally engage in any activity or make any decision that adversely harms another. It also means you have enough respect for yourself to avoid knowingly being taken advantage of.

If a potential deal is in process of coming together, and one of the parties wishes to take advantage of the other, the situation is setup to be a Win/Loose or Loose/Win. Either I’m trying to Win at your expense (Win/Loose), or you’re trying to win at my expense (Loose/Win). If an agreement can’t be reached without hurting one or more people involved in the negotiation, the right thing to do is to walk, or in other words, go with “no deal”.

Most people reading this blog have probably read about these same concepts in Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which I highly recommend. The ideas of Win/Win, Win/Loose, No Deal, are not hard to grasp.

And yet, it’s relatively easy to take on projects, buy investments, or make decisions that adversely affect our core assets, creating an unsuspecting Loose/Win, or even a Loose/Loose.

Every decision I make that affects my assets should make ALL of the assets more valuable.

Now before we focus too much on financial assets, which are really the most expendable and temporary of all the various assets, let’s consider some of the assets that don’t necessarily qualify as financial assets. After all, these likely will be more valuable to you than anything you can quantify. The most precious things in life can’t be measured, and the stuff that gets quantified isn’t the stuff that endures.

What are some of your most cherished assets?

Here are some of the things I most cherish – my most precious assets.

  1. My testimony and belief in Christ and the principles I live by
  2. My wife and the love that’s between us
  3. My daughter and the joy she is to have in my life
  4. My country and the freedoms I enjoy
  5. My memories and the lessons I’ve learned from the past
  6. The challenges I’ve overcome that have made me who I am
  7. My hope and vision for and faith in the future
  8. My friends
  9. The people I serve in church, and in the community
  10. My physical, mental, and spiritual health

Every decision I make, even if it’s strictly a financial investment, must pass through these assets first – my core assets. If the decision to buy or build a business, or invest in a piece of real estate, or create a new joint venture in anyway disrupts these core assets, then it’s not a Win Win for everyone involved.

If I choose to start a company that’s very lucrative but in any way unethical or immoral, it’s a Win-Loose against my first asset, my code of ethics and my knowledge of correct principles.

If a particular business venture won’t allow me to grow and accomplish more as a person, then it probably is a Win-Loose against #6, (overcoming challenges), and #5 (memories and lessons learned from the past).

If I choose to join an MLM (network marketing) company that requires me to burn bridges and make all my friends run from me because I’ve become “that guy”, then I’ve violated # 8 (friends) and possibly # 9 (church and community).

If I’m working overtime repeatedly and neglecting my family and my health, then I’ve violated # 2, # 3, and # 10. Once again, a Win for the money, but a big Loose, Loose, Loose for wife, children, and my own health.

One of the most important exercises we can do on a weekly basis is to take inventory of our assets, our REAL assets.

1. List your assets, in order of value and priority. Or, if you’ve already listed them and prioritized them, look over the list you’ve made.

2. We should then ask ourselves, what 3 things can we do this upcoming week that will increase the value of these, our most cherished assets. The best way to see your most cherished assets appreciate in value is to begin appreciating and valuing them.

The Hidden Value in Forgiveness

It's never a fun thing to get screwed by someone you trust in business.

I've had several business ventures fail, and several partnerships go sour.

I've learned that when things don't go as planned, typically there's a human-natured tendency to want to blame for the failure.

Inevitably, when the blame-game begins, and we begin pointing fingers, allocating energy and resources to the perpetrator, we loose the part of us that knows deep down that none of this material stuff really matters anyway.

Easier said than done, I know.

I've been intentionally, blatantly screwed over by several people in business deals that were never meant to go right. I suppose when there's malicious intent, there's justifiable reason for standing ground and fighting back.

But it's been my experience that I loose a lot of time, energy, and money when I fight back. I'm not saying don't fight. I'm saying that in most cases, it's futile.

Lately, I've had the opportunity to work with someone I respect and admire a lot - another business broker in our office named Richard R. He's had his share of injustices, just like most of us who've been around long enough to know that getting burned is just part of the game of playing in the kitchen. He's allowed his previous business partner to walk away with a good portion of the company he helped found, and he's done so graciously and without any malicious feelings. He's lost a lot of money. No doubt he has an arrow in his quiver he could easily use called justice. But he's chosen to rise above it. It takes a big man with big ideas and a bigger picture of reality to rise above the substantial losses he's faced. He's moved on to better things.

I recently talked with another friend named Marc, a police officer by trade, whose serving with me in a church leadership position. He's seen his fair share of cruelty, and the results of the all-too-common bitterness and revenge that come as a result.

He's seen some horrific scenes of those who've suffered terrible losses from criminal acts, only to see those criminals escape for many years before being caught and brought to justice. Some folks let go, choosing not to testify against their perpetrator, saying things like "that was so long ago, why bring it up now?" or "It's in the past, we've moved on."

But he's also seen the opposite reaction - the more-common tendency for the victims to hold on to the bitterness for many years, even if the perpetrator has paid or is paying for the crime they've committed or made every attempt to pay the emotional debt they've incurred.

According to Marc, some people let the smallest offences consume their peace for a lifetime. And ironically, others who've suffered major losses, such as the death or murder of a loved one, somehow learn to forgive.

I have to remind myself constantly to let things go. To forgive, and to move on. Not to allow for substandard quality, nor to allow for intentional breaking of one's word - I believe we should be true to our agreements. And there are times when we must make a stand and fight. But in most cases, the fighting is futile, draining, and leaves both sides worse off yet more entrenched in their positions.

Forgiveness and mercy, which are closely related to humility, yields the fruits of power and character.