May 3, 2012
Several years ago I took a four day self-improvement seminar. I will admit: it was a little cult-ish in style, but some of their exercises were useful and had great takeaways. One exercise in particular I will never forget. They divided the whole group of maybe sixty people into two groups. The instructor put each group into two different rooms and gave us instruction on a game, that I now cannot recall, and explained that we needed to strategize with our group to see how we can get the most points in the game. After thirty minutes or so, the instructor walked in and asked us to come back to the main hall. No one won. The only way to get the most points was to get out of our room and team up with our opponents.
I felt betrayed. I was around 21 years old at the time and I had never had the true feeling behind the “win-win” concept until this moment. Growing up my classes, sports, competitions… everything was always “win-lose”. I thought about this for days. Why didn’t anyone ever teach me how to engage in a win-win situation if that was the best way to reach the most points [in a game or in life]. Being the competitive person I am, I loved it and hated it at the same time.
Yesterday I had the honor of hearing Bill Clinton speak at UCLA’s Royce Hall on “Embracing our Common Humanity.” His theme for the night was positive interdependence. I had flashbacks of the seminar I took and how positive interdependence can really help us all live better lives. Positive interdependence is where success depends on the participation of all members (where everybody wins - “win-win”). Growing my business the past several years has forced me to really implement this state of mind, practice and discipline. Everyone needs to be involved. Often times as a competitive person I like to take control of a project and take responsibility for other people’s tasks. [Yes, I was the nerd in the group project who did all the work while my group members were out drinking or something.] For me, it is about allowing and trusting that other people will show up to do their part. For some, it is about participating more themselves to show up for others. Think about how you can engage in positive interdependence in your work life, personal life and in everything that you do.
Read more about positive interdependence here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_interdependence