Tag Archives: Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

Habit #4: Think Win-Win

Think Win-Win.

I don’t know any advice any better than this.  This, of course, is one of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People — #4 to be precise.

And if you think about “think win-win,” it reinforces a lot of “advice and counsel” from books we read nearly every day.  For example, today I presented my synopsis of the terrific book, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.  These quotes jumped out at me, and reminded me of Covey’s “think win-win” counsel:

Success in any field, but especially in business, is about working with people, not against them.
I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful.
A network functions precisely because there’s recognition of mutual need…  first you have to stop keeping score.

Or, consider the concept of “generalized reciprocity” from the modern classic, Bowling Alone:  The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam.  In it, he writes about the appeal of generalized reciprocity:  “I’ll do this for you without expecting anything specific back from you, in the confident expectation that someone else will do something for me down the road.”

I think we need to trumpet this concept loudly and clearly in these tense days.  There seems to be such fierce competition with others; so many people who are so quick to find fault, to even question the motives of others.  It is as though there are people out there rooting for the failure of others.

And we forget that any one failure spells trouble for others – maybe for all.

I was recently re-reading part of Collapse:  How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond.  (One of those, “I really encourage you to read this book” books).  Here are a couple of quotes from near the end of the book:

Our own society opted long ago to become interlocked with the rest of the world…
In the Netherlands, we have another expression, ‘You have to be able to get along with your enemy, because he may be the person operating the neighboring pump in your polder.’

In one sense, there is no such thing as an enemy, but only fellow planet users.  If your economy is weak, my economy is threatened.  If your city is polluted, my clean air is at risk.  “If the dikes and pumps fail, we’ll all drown together.’’ (Diamond).

Let’s put it another way:  to think and act “win-lose” is really to think and act “lose-lose.”  We really are in this together, and “win-win” may be the only path to “win” at all.