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Think Win-Win

This is the fourth post in a 7-week series covering Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you missed the first three weeks, you can read them here.

During my senior year of high school, I noticed that the students in my school were becoming increasingly divisive and exclusive. This wasn't necessarily a unique problem to my school, especially given that we had over 2400 students. However, it seemed that everyone felt like everyone else didn't want to be their friend.

The first semester I was taking a performing arts class and was able to spend some time around some of my classmates I hadn't interacted with much prior to this class. Leading up to Christmas break, I asked, somewhat naively, if they were going to Brooke's holiday party. They rolled their eyes, and said, "You know Brooke doesn't want us there."

So I went and asked Brooke, "Hey is it okay if my friends from my arts class come to your party?" Her reply bewildered me.

"I don't think they'd want to go, would they?" I'd had it.

I went home and started a Facebook Group called Dear Clackamas. I called it that because my first post was an open letter to my school calling for inclusivity, that began with the words "Dear Clackamas..." My desire was to create a place where people could post about or plan social events for people at our school. To join the group and post you just had to agree to one thing: everyone in the group was invited.

What started off as an impassioned letter born out of frustration, became a win-win situation for my classmates. Those that felt excluded based on false preconceived notions of their classmates, now had a group to belong to. Those that felt as if others wouldn't want to attend their gatherings now had more people show up than ever before.

The best part? Brooke joined Dear Clackamas and posted about her party. My performing arts friends all came.

I didn't realize it at the time, but Dear Clackamas is an example of the 4th Habit of Highly Effective People; Think Win-Win.

Thinking win-win means that you look at life through a lens of cooperation and mutual benefit. It doesn't mean you're a pushover or that you're looking for a quick-fix. In fact, often times finding a win-win solution will take the most time and effort.

Living out the fourth habit means you embody three characteristics: integrity, maturity, and abundance mentality.

Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments.

Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and consideration for the ideas and feelings of others.

Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone.

The world is constantly pushing us towards a win-lose mentality. If the Democrats win, the Republicans lose. If everyone else is buying toilet paper at Costco, there won't be enough for your family so you should also go buy toilet paper at Costco. If your spouse gets a trip with their friends, then they owe you some time off as well.

A win-lose mentality requires there be a loser. A win-win mentality seeks the best for both individuals and the relationship they have with each other.


Think of the three most important relationships in your life. Do you have a win-win mindset with those individuals? If not, how can you give more than you take?


Have your actions in the past six months stemmed from an abundance mentality (there is enough for everyone), or a scarcity mentality (if someone else gets it there won't be any for me)?


"The law of win-win says, 'Let's not do it your way or my way; let's do it the best way.'"

-Greg Anderson

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