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July 18, 1999

Making Evaluation

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The concept of win-win didn’t start in America and it didn’t begin with this generation. You might be surprised to find that it originally was a part of the thinking that came from Adam Smith. Smith, a Scottish political economist and philosopher, published his Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759. This work discussed those standards of ethical conduct that hold society together. He emphasized the harmony of human motives and activities in a market setting. Smith is also known for his invisible hand theory, which stated that self-interest is behind much of a nation’s economy; public welfare comes second.

Are you putting other people’s welfare second? Or are you striving for a win-win environment in which neither you nor those around you have to lose?
Adam Smith believed in win/win two hundred and fifty years ago. Nothing that has transpired in the last two and half centuries should make us drift further from that thinking. Tom Watson, the historic guide of Big Blue certainly supported it.

“Our early emphasis on human relations was not motivated by altruism but by the simple belief that if we respected our people and helped them respect themselves, the company would make the most profit.” –Thomas J. Watson, Jr., IBM

Have you met people who believe that in order for them to be winners, other people must lose? They see everyone as an enemy who must be crushed. Or they prey on the pain of others in order to win. That seems to be the idea behind a mutual fund that became available in September 2002. It’s called the Vice Fund; Mutuals. The fund managers tout it as an investment in “companies that derive a significant portion of their revenues from products often considered socially irresponsible,” primarily in gambling, tobacco, alcohol, and defense weapons, industries considered to be nearly recession-proof.14

Experts say that such “vice investing” doesn’t work and isn’t as profitable as investment in “socially responsible” companies.15 But it’s clear even from the name that the appeal of the fund comes from the idea of the investor making money on someone else’s weakness. I wonder how the fund manager would feel if he knew people were working hard to exploit his personal flaws for their profit.

When you live by the Golden Rule, everybody wins. If I treat you as well as I desire to be treated, you win. If you treat me likewise, I win. Where is the loser in that? Many times, our culture operates with the mentality that in every situation there is a winner and there is a loser. We love to win and we hate to lose, but everyone hates a tie! But, would you believe it, it’s possible for both parties to win, not merely tie.

For example, there can be a win-win situation when you buy a car. Most of us go into the car dealership with our guard up. We want the most for our trade-in, the lowest interest rate, and the rock-bottom price on a car. We want to leave feeling victorious.

Of course, the car dealer wants to maximize his profit. This makes for a competitive environment—obviously, someone will be the winner and someone will be the loser. But what if both parties could win? The car dealer could make some profit and at the same time the buyer could get a nice vehicle for a good price.

Think of it this way: If you were selling the car, you’d expect to make a profit. That’s how business works. At the same time, if you’re the one buying the car, you want a fair price. If both parties—buyer and seller—understand these principles and treat each other with the Golden Rule, then both win.
He that does good to another does also good to himself. –Seneca
1. What is a win-win situation to you?

2. How does the Golden Rule help achieve win-win results?

3. Why is the win-win concept foreign to most of us?

4. Why does the win-win sometimes feel like a loss?

It’s important to point out that every situation actually has three options:

● Best-case scenario. In this case, both parties win. You each give a little, take a little—and you both come out on top. Of course, this works best when both parties are practicing the Golden Rule, but it doesn’t always happen that way.
● OK-case scenario. In this case, one person wins, one person loses. This is the most common case, because it’s the way our culture teaches us it should be. Two football teams play; one wins, one loses, just as it should be. Unfortunately, we take that competitive spirit off the football field and into life far too often.
● Worst-case scenario. I don’t really need to explain this one, because it’s obvious that neither party wins. Why? Probably because they both keep pushing to win—so far that they both just lose.

How do you maximize your share of win-win situations? By practicing the Power of One. By applying the Golden Ruler—measure every situation by whether it’s good, right, and true, and not just for you, but for all parties involved. Treat others respectfully—see their side of the story—and you’ll launch the possibility of a win-win. And remember, all it takes is one person to produce a win-win. It doesn’t take two people.
If you have not often felt the joy of doing a kind act, you have neglected much, and most of all yourself. –A. Neilen
Many times we are the benefactors of others’ win-win steps. For example:

When Nathaniel Hawthorne, a heartbroken man, went home to tell his wife that he had been fired from his job in a customhouse and confessed that he was a failure, she surprised him with an exclamation of joy.

She said triumphantly, “Now, you can write your book!”

He replied with a sagging confidence, “Yes, and what shall we live on while I am writing it?”

To his amazement, she opened a drawer and pulled out a substantial amount of money.

He exclaimed, “Where on earth did you get that?”

She answered, ‘I have always known that you were a man of genius. I knew that someday you would write a masterpiece. So every week out of the money you gave me for housekeeping, I have saved something; here is enough to last for a whole year.”

From her trust and powerful response came one of the greatest novels of American literature—The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne’s wife believed in him—and sacrificed of herself to allow him to win. In the end, she, too, won, by having a happy and successful husband—and by knowing that she had a hand in bringing about the success.

Of course, every bad job situation doesn’t turn into a world-class best-seller story. As a matter of fact, some of them might feel more like a win-lose for a while. But it takes the eyes of confidence and faith to do the right thing and hang on until the harvest comes. It many times takes a while for the good, the right, and the true to germinate and grow.

Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. –James M. Barrie

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