Small Steps, Giant Leaps

I’m feeling particularly witty this morning, so I hope you don’t get blown away by the levity I’ve inserted into this otherwise serious post about the Principle 4: Win-Win.

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Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind, wanting to start again? “Firework,” Katy Perry

As often as this song is quoted in jest or seriousness, despite its poppy superficiality, it brings up a good point about hitting the refresh button on life. So many times, we hit roadblocks in our relational communications and we use these obstacles as excuses for personal shortcomings. Covey even notes that win-win is not about personality, as much as personal interaction. If you’re interested in “winning at life,” think outside of the self for this one.

“Winning” At Life

We’re all on the edge of something. It’s the tipping point; a true point of no return; the space between wicked lies and imminent truths; the step backward or forward; the getting up or staying down; the moment of winning or losing. Ultimately, you decide to look outside of yourself at those things which put you ahead in life.

As for actually achieving win-win in a personal interactions, there are five dimensions fully explained and defined in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’ve cherry-picked those things most relevant to the tipping point I’m talking about today.

1. Character

This first dimension includes some critical aspects essential to being the kind of person even capable of winning. I’d say this is the most personal aspect of the five dimensions. Covey mentions three important aspects of this dimension.

  • Integrity, “the value we place on ourselves”
  • Maturity, “the balance between courage and consideration”
  • Abundance Mentality, “there’s plenty out there for everybody”

Essentially, be honest with yourself when you go into interactions with other people. Or be a liar, and hurt yourself and others. Also, remember that some people, despite how much you want to get back at them for hurting you, deserve the respect for their own humanity, too. Finally, don’t be afraid to demand the most of the world; it’s a big place, with lots to spare. Id est, be honest with yourself and others; be the bigger person; and demand more from life.

2. Relationships

The biggest element of winning in your interpersonal interactions is by establishing trust. This is a pretty easy thing to maintain, but it’s also pretty easy to break, too. Trust is usually built most easily by those people with strong character.

3. Agreements

For successful agreements to be made and maintained, a fair amount of structure is required. You must have clear cut goals for whatever interaction you’re engaging in. The achievement of these goals shouldn’t exceed the capacity of either person, and should respect the limitations of those involved. You should also consider those resources available to you, whether they be mutual acquaintances or skills you possess. You also need to rely upon each others’ character for success; this ensures a strong relationship and upheld agreements. And if one of you falls short of the set boundaries, then you must accept the consequences.

4. Support Systems

Individuals succeed within the systemic parameters established for them. This is truly an extension of the boundaries and expectations established by successful agreements.

5. Processes

Again, I’ll emphasize process over progress. Perspective is critical. It keeps you objective in your interactions so you remain cognizant of any issues and concerns which arise, whether they be violations of your personal boundaries or the expectations of the agreement.

Results are equivalent with progress, and therefore only significant when you’ve achieved a certain level of continuity and regularity with the other aspects of “winning.” But, achieving the desired results opens up a world of new possibilities. That’s where the real win comes in; the chance for change.

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