Everyone loves the idea of Win/Win don’t they? But in order for a genuine Win/Win to take place, certain other things need to come into the equation. Things like:
long term perspective
A brief look at each of these factors helps to provide some understanding when it comes to Living a Win/Win Lifestyle.
“Be careful not to compromise what you want most for what you want now.” Zig Ziglar
Compromise is the perceived enemy of many who closely guard their principles and values, and so it should be if it means that to compromise is to surrender the very essence of who you are and all that you stand for. But we are not talking about that kind of compromise here. What we are talking about here is the ability to judge when a bit of short term pain is necessary to achieve long term gain.
“If you want to bring an end to long-standing conflict, you have to be prepared to compromise.” Aung San Suu Kyi
Everyone has to negotiate in order to navigate a successful course through whatever situation they find themselves in. Negotiation and compromise are long-standing partners when it comes to securing that deal and it is no less so when it comes to deciding you really do want to Live a Win/Win Lifestyle. As we shall see, negotiation in this particular context is simply learning when to say “No” and discovering that very often, it really is true that ‘less is more’.
At the cornerstone of all successful achievements – in relationships, business or changing the course of your life for the good – lies trust. The ability to trust anyone or anything can be more difficult for some than it is for others, depending on your life experience thus far. One thing is for sure however, without trust there is no solid foundation upon which to build whatever it is we are moving towards.
Having a healthy respect for the other person who you are dealing with is always a good thing. Without respect, complacency creeps in and always undermines your natural ability to handle the situation properly and wisely. And what’s more, if you demonstrate respect for the other person, unless they are a very nasty kind of person, they will reciprocate and show you the same level of respect. This then leads to a much easier road to securing a Win/Win outcome, because out of respect, flow things like generosity, kindness and even favour towards each other – all in the name of desiring a positive result.
Long Term Perspective
We all know deep down that long term thinking is always a wiser course of action than short term satisfaction. Also known as ‘delayed gratification’, this mindset is extremely powerful when it comes to securing a Win/Win in any situation. In fact, all of the afore-mentioned attributes point towards this final and crucial aspect. When we allow ourselves to think long-term, the decisions we make will echo wisdom from the rooftops. When we choose to delay our own gratification, either in favour of the other person, or simply because it will benefit us more over time, a deep sense of achievement begins to bubble up from within and if we make this mindset a habit, it can only reinforce our sense of self worth, confidence and skill in making good decisions, however complex the situation may initially be.
Many people are familiar with these attributes and seek to apply them to the typical business scenarios that occur all the time, all over the world. But what many people do not consider, and therefore do not do, is to apply them to their own busy lives of desperately trying to balance work with family, work versus pleasure, that never-ending pursuit of a so-called “Healthy Work/Life Balance.”
What you are about to learn right now, is that if you decide to apply these very same attributes in your sincere attempt to Live a Win/Win Life, it will be immeasurably easier than merely scrambling around trying to please everyone from your boss to your partner and everyone in between – invariably failing at most, if not all the hurdles that life loves to hurl at us!
So, in no particular order, here are the seventeen prerequisites that you need to practise until they become integral to the very fabric of who you are and why you do what you do. don’t be put off by the number – just try to practise one and go from there.
1. Work to Live or Live to Work?
I spent many years on the road as a salesman, travelling up and down the country often, with the occasional, sometimes more regular than I would’ve liked, overnight stay. There in the hotel bar would be a wide variety of people – most of whom would be there for the exact same reason. Whenever I spoke to the people there (mostly men I have to say) about the inconvenience of having to stay away from home several nights a week, many would simply say, “I’m doing it for my family. So my wife doesn’t have to work and my kids can enjoy the things they want.”
These same people would not only often sleep in hotels most of the week but would many times find themselves leaving their family home on a Sunday afternoon, in order to drive to the first destination of the week, or at least be within striking distance of it, come the morning rush hour on Monday. You can always spot these people, because they typically drive a relatively new saloon or estate car and the rear passenger window behind the driving seat is almost completely covered with freshly ironed shirts for the rest of the working week.
I perfectly understand the pressures and stresses of modern working practises and the need to be seen to be going the extra mile or rather, miles – literally in these cases – but this does not necessarily make it right or even very healthy in the long term. And remember, all of this report is concerned with gaining a long term perspective. I myself, had to comply for a season, with this kind of work routine. Thankfully however, the most I ever had to commit myself to was one or two nights away from home and this was thankfully, not even every week.
The real problem comes when the person concerned – male or female – becomes so entrenched in their work, so utterly committed to it, that all other relationships, including those who are supposed to be closest to them, come a very poor second to the demands of the job. So returning to the scene in the hotel bar; many of these people who tell themselves and others that they are doing it for their family are deceived. It makes them feel better if they say this. It certainly helps reduce the guilt of being absent so often from the people who need them to be there a lot more than they are.
But the harsh truth is this: they are doing it for themselves because it gives them a sense of achievement and self-worth that they struggle to find in anything else.
For those at the very peak of their powers in the worlds of law, finance, entertainment – any industry in fact, that offers immense rewards and endless accolades to those who rise to the top, the situation is even worse. Rare indeed, is the person who successfully climbs these mountains of cultural identity and manages to maintain a Win/Win Lifestyle.
In other words, it is a rare marriage that doesn’t get compromised by affairs with people who spend much more time with the person in question than their spouse. It is a rare family where children don’t grow up knowing their best friend’s parents far more than they ever get to know their own regularly absent parents.
2. Focus a Bit Less on Do and a Lot More on Be
We tend to forget that we are called to be human beings not human doings. In order to truly realise this, you must take time out to simply be. The constant challenge of daily juggling work deadlines with all the other things vying for our focus and attention means that we mostly feel like we have no choice but to run around doing stuff.
But the truth is, we do have a choice. How about simply choosing to stop – even for five minutes – and meditate? Yes, meditate. All this really means is taking a few minutes to slow right down, observe your breathing, and listen to the relative silence. You will be amazed how much more energised and relaxed you feel afterwards.
3. “Don’t wear yourself out to trying to get rich…in the blink of an eye riches disappear.”
I love the paraphrase of this ancient proverb that warns us against focussing on the wrong things. But then another ancient writing has this buried deep within it, “You have been given power to create wealth.” This is a little misleading, because it is in fact, not declaring that we must all go around releasing our power to get riches! In the original language, the word wealth actually means value. In the context of the ancient script, it is actually referring to delivering a service or product that has great value in your community, your world.
In other words, if what you do in your business or job provides excellent value, then you are already creating wealth, and the money will come to you. People will want to do business with you, because of the pleasure that the experience in and of itself brings to them. Pleasure because you consistently demonstrate that you have their best interests at the heart of everything you do for them. You don’t need to inflate the price to increase your profit margin because your clients keep returning and therefore your overall profit is very healthy. You under-promise and over-deliver every time instead of the all too familiar opposite. This wealth, or genuine value, is the difference between a trusted supplier and a typical supplier in the eyes of the customer or client.
On the other hand, if you fail to deliver good value simply because you are forever competing against your competitors on price for example, then you will find yourself cutting corners and the value you try to offer will suffer. You will grow exhausted through the relentless chasing after the money and then as the proverb predicts, finally the riches will disappear and you will be worse off than when you started.
4. Don’t Become a Statistical Reminder of a World that Doesn’t Care
In 1981, an English reggae band called UB40 released their first single, called One in Ten. The last line in the chorus is “A Statistical Reminder of a World that Doesn’t Care”. They were singing about mass unemployment in a country that was becoming rapidly divided along the fault lines of North and South, the haves and the have nots, the rich and the poor. The exhortation we are referring to here however, is not about economic factors that divide and determine so much of our lives. What we are referring to here is about how more and more people are becoming a statistical reminder of a world that doesn’t care… about its own health. Take a look at these frightening statistics and see if any resonate with you and your current situation:
More than a third of people say that their job is the most stressful part of their lives
60% drink alcohol after work in order to cope, 14% drink during the day for the same reason
Job stress makes 7% of adults consider suicide, rising to 10% of people in the 18-24 age group
Workers rarely feel they can talk to their bosses so 10% turn to sleeping tablets instead
15% take antidepressants & 28% smoke
Almost 20% have thrown a sickie over stress & almost 10% have resigned because of it.
Recent government reports on work-related stress calculate the total cost to the UK economy at approximately £3.5 billion.
This of course, is merely the tip of the iceberg. A whole lot more goes on behind closed doors where relationships become strained due to the pressures of work, and the lack of time to invest in our loved ones.
The obvious question then is this: What can you do to avoid becoming a statistical reminder?
5. Control your Calendar Before it Controls You
Taking control of your calendar should be a relatively simple task but as we all know, this is easier said than done. If, as we have looked at, filling your calendar fills you with a sense of achievement and self-worth, then controlling your calendar in order to stop it from controlling you will not be an easy task. You will talk about being busy and how ‘work is crazy’ right now but the reality is often that you are the author of your own craziness! Many people will complain at this suggestion and demand that it is simply not in line with the harsh realities of the relentless world of work and business.
There are times for sure, when things are very busy and perhaps there is a season where it really does seem like ‘work is crazy’ and that is fine, albeit often difficult at the time to manage. I am not talking about these times. What I am talking about is what you allow to become the ‘norm’ in your calendar culture so to speak. And it is as much about what you say to people who make various demands on your time that makes all the difference.
6. Learn to say “No”
Wherever possible, you simply have to learn to say “No”.
In fact, just the mere decision to say “No” could be the most significant thing you ever do. Say “No” to all non-value items, all things that are not within your immediate sphere of responsibility or influence, anything that simply shows up on your door because the people who leave it there know you will always do it for them. It can require some courage to do it at first but the freedom you will gain from saying this simple two letter word will be genuinely life-changing.
Now, as with all of the suggestions in this report, they are not designed to be used indiscriminately.
There are times when we choose to say “Yes” when normally we would say “No” simply because it is the right thing to do. But in the main, if you can avoid taking on tasks and responsibilities that are not yours to take on board, you will see a huge difference in the amount of time you have to do the things that are genuinely important and are things that add value to what you do. Simply put, those things that comprise the wealth you are creating every day.
7. Don’t Take Your Work Home with You and Never to Bed with You!
What would your partner or spouse think if every night, you walked in through the front door with someone else who you actually prefer to spend time with? He or she wouldn’t be very impressed would they? Moreover, after that split second thought, they would rightly protest violently and after the first incident, would justifiably march you both out of the house! But this is precisely what many people do with their work. Okay, so you can’t have an affair with your work but you can adore your work, do whatever your work tells you to do, disrupt your family life for your work. This is one of the biggest causes of marital breakdowns because it is so subtle at first.
I work with many people who work from home and so the idea of not bringing your work home with you is a bit of a nonsense. So you have to use common sense. If you can, create a separate work space that is not in the hub of the family home. Even better, use a spare room as an office or better yet, build an office at the bottom of the garden. In the worst case scenario, if your office is the kitchen and your desk is the dining table; then do everything you can to have it all packed up by the time it needs to become what it was designed to be – a place for the family to gather together.
Alternatively, if your hours are very flexible and you need to work some evenings from home, then make sure you take some time out during the day to spend with your family. Do the school run if you’re already at home, help out in the house and contribute wherever you can before you have to switch back into work mode. This mindset alone will transform your closest relationships and help them to give you the grace and space to work when you need to.
8. Take a Helicopter Ride
The Inga Rapids can be found on the mighty Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Africa. They are the largest rapids in the world, generating 1.6 million cubic feet of water per second. They are twice as steep and 100 times the average volume of the rapids found on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Until recently, no exploration had ever conquered them. In fact, the last time a group, led by the famous French TV adventurer, Philippe de Dieuleveult set out to ride the rapids in 1985, the entire team perished without trace.
In 2011, a team led by American kayaking icon, Steve Fisher, finally gained permission to try and navigate the notorious rapids. After surviving a near miss himself when he was dragged down to a whirlpool, the team decided to try and get a better perspective. This meant jumping into a helicopter to view the rapids from above. When they returned from this new vantage point, this is what one of the team members said, “What looked impossible from the surface water level, suddenly looked very do-able.”
This is why it is very important to take a helicopter ride at least once a month or even once a quarter. The good news is you don’t actually have to spend any money on hiring a helicopter. You can simply take some time out alone or even better, with someone who is supporting you in your transition towards a Win/Win Lifestyle. From there, you can survey the landscape of your life, with all the elements competing for your precious time. You can easily identify what needs to change, or what needs to be introduced or perhaps even stopped. Who do you need to spend more time with and who needs to be removed from your inner circle?
9. Fast, Cheap or Good? You decide!
Have you ever heard of the ‘Fast, Cheap, Good Triangle’?
If you imagine the three sides of a triangle, and each one has a word running along the length of it. One says Fast, another says Cheap and the third says Good. The way it works is like this: you can never have all three elements in a business transaction. You can opt for Fast and Cheap but the downside is it won’t be very Good. Or, you can go for Fast and Good but it won’t be Cheap. Thirdly, you could go for Good and Cheap but it won’t be very Fast. This can apply to anything from a fee you have to pay someone for their services right through I suppose, to a car you are considering buying. But it also applies to how we choose to live our life. Or at least the decisions we make every day which directly affect our life, as well as the lives of those we love the most.
10. Relationships Rule
Relationships are fundamental to everything we are and do. Consider this piece of advice I read many years ago, “You will never get the other person to reveal themselves to you unless they trust you. They will never trust you unless you they know you. They will never know you unless you reveal yourself to them.” This I believe, is one of the very best mantras to live by, especially if you really do want to enjoy the wonders of healthy relationships. And healthy relationships means healthy performance – both at home and at work. Think about it for a few seconds even. If you are out of alignment with people – your closest family or the people you work with – life is so much harder and more stressful.
It is not always possible to be in perfect alignment but if you know you are doing and have done all that you can to create a healthy relationship environment, you will at least know that your conscience is clean and it may be that you have to simply move on without that particular person. “As much as it is in your power to do so, try to get on with all people at all times” is another good way of thinking about this potential minefield that we all, at some stage in our lives have to navigate our way through. Entire books are written of course about this most vital of subjects but suffice it to say, relationships require a significant investment of your most precious asset, and that asset is called time.
Rob Parsons wrote a fantastic book many years ago called The Sixty Minute Father – primarily because it only took one hour to read the book from cover to cover. In it, he says that children spell love T.I.M.E and this is absolutely true. I want to suggest however, that in fact, we all spell love this way, because if we feel very little or even no time has been invested in us, we will not feel loved, or perhaps more appropriately in the business world, we will not feel very cared for will we?
11. A Blue Sky is Always Better
Most people love a truly blue sky and there is a very good and pretty obvious reason for that. When we look up and see a blue sky, it immediately speaks to us of anything from “It’s going to be a sunny day” right through to “anything is possible today!” Why is this? I believe it is simply because when there are no clouds in the sky, no rain in the air, we cannot help but feel optimistic. As often as you possibly can – once every three months, even once a month if you can manage it – create some ‘Blue Sky time’.
Set aside an entire morning or afternoon, and simply go somewhere without distractions and sit and think. Switch your phone off, put your laptop away. All you need is a journal or notebook and a pen. For the first hour or so, you may well be wondering if you can seriously justify this luxury at all. Then remind yourself that whilst it is a luxury in terms of the time you are setting aside, it is much more accurate to consider it an investment. An investment in yourself. By the time you are into hours three and four, some of the ideas you will be getting will be emerging as genuine gold dust.
You can invest in yourself like this and set out with no agenda whatsoever and see what happens, and that is completely fine. Or, you can take one or two subject matters that you already know require some serious, deep thinking, especially if you are in need of a solution, and I guarantee, by the end of your ‘Blue Sky time’ you will come away with a way forward that you would otherwise have struggled to find at all. Either way, if you carve out some ‘Blue Sky time’ on a regular basis, you will be all the richer for it in every respect of the word.
12. “I wish I spent more time at the office.”
I’m sure you will have heard this quote before but what you won’t know is who said it. That is because no one said it! Because the full length version of this quote is “No one ever said, ‘I wish I spent more time at the office’.” Who in their right mind would even dream about saying such a ludicrous thing at any stage of their life, let alone on their death bed, which is the usual context from where this ‘non-quote’ comes from? So if that is true, why do so many people act as if it isn’t and that they wish they could spend more time at the office? I believe it comes back to that self worth issue and people, especially men, it has to be said, finding their identity in their work; and how many hours they can clock up in order to feel like they are good at what they do.
13. Turn off Your Life Support System
I have a client who, when we first began working together, had a serious issue with his mobile phone, which I also refer to as a Life Support System, given the way that so many people feel their lives would be as good as over if they were to lose their phone or accidentally drop it in the toilet, or have it stolen.
His problem was this: every single time an email came in, his Blackberry would issue a flashing red light, and so even if it was the weekend, my client would struggle to resist the urge to check it and see what the message was about, knowing that 95% of his emails would be work-related. At the time it was a classic ‘No Win’ situation because even if by some miracle, he managed to hold out until the Monday morning, he would be having near palpitations on the way to work, worrying about whether he had made the right decision and how many things may have gone wrong simply because he had failed to read the said email at the time it landed in his living room.
Eventually, he arrived at what I considered the only and most obvious option to resolving this issue: Turn off the Life Support System! And guess what? Nobody died that day. Or the next day. Or the day after that. In fact, he didn’t even need to turn off the Blackberry. All he had to do was turn off the flashing red light option and check his emails at appropriate times.
Two years later, my client is a different person. He does not get stressed, even when things are not looking wonderful at work. He doesn’t panic if he hasn’t checked his emails. And guess what? He is a far more effective leader within the large corporation he works for and his team are becoming increasingly more effective also, as they take their lead from him.
14. If Work is All You Ever Do, it’s Time to Discover Something New
This should be the easiest prerequisite but in reality, for those most affected by an unhealthy work/life balance, it will be one of the hardest. The plain truth is that many people do what they love for a living, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, one of my favourite quotes that I often use on another subject about Work is this: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because the world needs people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman
I am a complete advocate of people finding out what they love to do, and if possible, earning their living from doing that very thing. The flip side however, is that if your work is so all-consuming that you have no time for anyone or anything else, the pleasure that work brings you will eventually be turned into pain. All kinds of pain. Relational pain. Physical pain. The pain that comes from realising, often a little too late, that there were so many other things you would have loved to have done with your life but you were too busy working.
This is also a powerful tool when it comes to protecting those relationships that need protecting. If your partner or spouse for example, loves nothing more than going for a swim once a week, why not consider joining them, even if you don’t particularly enjoy it? Or perhaps they love visiting a garden centre, or just taking a decent walk in the countryside? This act alone, will send out a wonderfully loving and powerful message that you value the relationship and you are prepared to invest time to demonstrate your commitment to it.
15. When in Rome…Get Your Head in the Game
Focus is a very powerful thing – especially when it is aimed in the direction of what we are supposed to be doing at that particular moment in time. Or to be even more specific, when it is aimed at the person we are supposed to be engaging with at the time. How many times have you found yourself speaking to a friend on the telephone but at the same time, you are checking out your other ‘friends’ on Facebook or as someone I know prefers to call this phenomena, ‘Fakebook’?
So whether you are on the phone to a friend, resolving a situation at work, or nestling a young child on your knee, focus on what is in front of you. Whatever you focus on in your life becomes larger. For example, if you focus on all the negative stuff going on around you, that ‘stuff’ will simply become so large that it will feel overwhelming and completely insurmountable. If however, you choose to acknowledge the presence of the negative (you can’t pretend it’s not there) but focus on the possible solutions, the solutions will get larger and will eventually lift you up out of the situation you are facing.
Likewise, if you truly focus on the aspects of your life that add value to your life – your relationships, your work (when you are there and meant to be engaged in it) then your results will be successful overall. This is not a magic wand strategy, and many times, you will be doing all of the correct things and yet, there is no evidence that it is working. Keep on keeping on and you will get there in the end.
16. Don’t be so Single-Minded about Climbing the Ladder that You Forget to Enjoy the View!
We are all guilty of climbing ladders and some get to the top of theirs quicker than others. Some take their time, enjoying the view all the way. Some even rise to the top of their ladder – whether it is achieved in a quick or slow time – only to then realise that they’ve climbed the wrong ladder! Which is worse I wonder? To climb the wrong ladder or to climb any ladder and be in such a rush about it all, or behave so ruthlessly towards others or even yourself, that you fail miserably to take in the spectacular view? At least if you climb the wrong ladder, you should be able to learn from the view and apply the lessons learned to climbing the right one. If however, you never take the time to absorb the view and all that that can teach you, what was the point of any of it?
17. Finally, Practise the Fun Theory Whenever and Wherever You Can
Start how you mean to go on and spend less than two minutes checking out this beautiful example of taking an every day mundane task and turning it into something that brings fun and would even make you more healthy!
For a free conversation with Paul about how you too can Live a Win/Win Lifestyle, please contact:
or call him on (+44) 7881-582425