28 November 2009 1 Comment

1 – 1 = 1

Orange - iStock_0000111491863.jpgNo, it’s not some kind of new math, but it is a challenge to those who think life is a zero sum game.  When following our natural tendency, I think they are right.  But I also believe there is a better way to act that almost always produces more.

A great illustration of this principle is the orange story.  I think I first heard this through a Stephen Covey seminar based on his classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Of course, looking for the “win-win” is one of Covey’s fundamental principles.  The orange story goes something like this:

Two people; one orange.  An apparent impasse until one asked the other why they wanted the orange.  The first person wanted the orange to eat. But the second person only wanted the peel; they needed orange zest for a recipe.

Once they took the time to listen and understand the other’s objectives they found one orange could meet both of their needs.

Notice this isn’t a compromise.  That would be 1 – ½ = ½. In the orange story, nobody gave anything up!  Both received 100% of what they wanted.  The key is, they needed to discover what the other wanted and be willing to consider a new way of thinking.

Leaders often use others to get what they want. But people usually follow leaders whom they trust and who act according to their best interests. I believe that the most effective leaders learn how to pursue their own agendas mindful of the interests of others, always looking for the win-win.

What About You?
  1. Can you think of an example of a leader who considered your well-being?  How did that impact your motivation?
  2. When have you been a more effective leader by looking for the win-win?

Leave a reply and tell your story.

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