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Seven Habits Solutions: Independence With Win-Win Moments

Updated on March 31, 2013

A Win-Win Team


As Close to Win-Win as We're Likely to Get

Seven Habits Solutions

My initial series on The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was very well received. So now, I'm sharing my cutting-edge thinking in four more series about the Seven Habits: Tools and Tips; Common Misunderstandings; Deeper Issues; and this series, Solutions. Here, in solutions, you'll learn how I've been making 7 Habits work in my life for almost 20 years.

As Close to Win-Win as We're Likely to Get

Ongoing win-win relationships are very hard to achieve. You can learn why by reading Why is Win-Win So Rare? Here, I provide a solution. I believe the best we can do is to create our own success through independence, and set up our businesses and our lives to be open to win-win moments. I'll show you how I'm doing it, and I hope that you'll give it a try.

If you do, then, Wow! We have a win-win moment right here.

Balanced, Dynamic Success Requires Attention


Creating Balanced, Dynamic Success

Independence with Win-Win Moments is balanced, dynamic success. It is success because we are living independently, making our lives work and making our dreams real. It is balanced because we do not exceed what is possible: We do not jump into dreams of win-win only to be disappointed when things blow up. And it is dynamic because we are open to the possibility of greater opportunity, of win-win moments and, who knows, maybe synergy and greater success.

We get there in three steps:

  1. Using the first three habits, we set up a very effective, proactive life. We go for our goals and keep our focus. We use our time, money, and energy well. We track results and adjust our course weekly to make sure we will achieve our objectives. That is, we work to be Independent and Ready for Synergy.
  2. We take good care of ourselves, our environment, and our resources. We are good stewards. We spend appropriate amounts of time in productive work and in improving our production capability by sharpening the saw. In Stephen Covey's language, we master Habit 7: Self-Renewal and maintain the P/PC (Production / Production Capability) balance. To put it simply, we Keep Things Going and Growing.
  3. We do not limit ourselves to independence. We remain open to win-win synergy, even knowing how rare it is - less than 1 in a 100, probably. We Seek Win-Win Moments.

Our Life Plan . . .

. . . is what we will do before we die.
. . . is what we will do before we die. | Source

Step 1: Independent, and Ready for Synergy

Creating Our Life Plan (Habits 1 and 2)

Having completed Habit 1 and Habit 2, we've done our funeral visualization, and we've chosen our goals for the next three years. And these goals are not just about what we want to get done. They include achievements (what we want to get done); contributions (how we want to help others); and, perhaps most importantly, character (the kind of person we want to be every day).

We write all this down. We create our Weekly Compass with our Vision, Mission, and Values statement at the top, followed by our list of roles, with goals for each role.

With our roles and goals in place, we're ready to roll!

The Next 1,000 Days (Habit 3)

Habit 3, Put First Things First, is where the rubber meets the road. Classically, it is called time management. But we are really not managing time, we are managing ourselves. We are managing our focus and our work. We are managing what we do with our time. And what we do is build our character, contribute to the well-being of others, and work towards our goals.

Three years is about 1,000 days, or 150 weeks. To achieve our 3-year goals, we want to act every day and take stock every week. This means:

  • We build our character daily. If we want to be reliable, then, each day, we do what we said we were going to do. We don't over commit, and we deliver. And each week, without judgment, we evaluate ourselves. If we made a mistake, we apologize and start over. We correct course. By doing this every week, we constantly improve our capability.
  • We contribute steadily. In each role, we contribute to the success of the other person, the family, the company, or the group. And we balance our participation, not getting over-involved in side issues, but also staying steadily connected with loved ones and colleagues. We make sure we communicate effectively and are respected and seen as valuable.
  • We make progress towards our goals - or know why we didn't. Each day, we work towards our goals. That won't always work; there will be set-backs. So we evaluate our progress each week, and correct course if we are going in the wrong direction or speed up if things are moving too slowly.

With the first three habits in place, we move ahead, making progress week by week. We are independent, effective, and efficient.

Ready for Synergy

Many successful people do all the things mentioned above, and then stop there. This is especially true in American society, where we worship independence, thinking that it is the highest goal.

This creates a Catch-22, a vicious circle that keeps our whole society limited. Because we can't see beyond independence to interdependence, interdependence is very hard to find. Win-win success and synergy are very hard to achieve. And failed efforts at synergy create lots of negative synergy, which is explosive, messy, and painful.

Interdependence is so rare that people believe it is impossible. People believe interdendence is impossible, so it is rare. That's the vicious circle.

Yet interdependence creates synergy, where results are 50 times more effective than working separately. Imagine a small company, a team of two, that can generate enough revenue to support 100 employees. That's profitability. Or imagine - or even become - a couple that can stay in love, with that joyful, starry-eyed feeling, constantly renewing their marriage. What a joy life can be! And such a couple brings gifts of joy and healing to others.

We are right to be cautious about the possibility of win-win relationships and synergy. They are rare, and the failures hurt a lot! Let us be cautious, and yet remain open to the possibilities of wonderful things happening. Let's not settle for independence, give up, and isolate ourselves. That's what it means to be ready for synergy.


Step 2: Keep Things Going and Growing

Every system needs maintenance. And people are systems!

Keep Things Going

We take care of ourselves every day. For the body, we get enough sleep, eat healthy food, avoid unhealthy habits, and enjoy some exercise or activity. We invest time in joy, creativity, and fun with other people. We think things through, and we spend time in nature or meditation or prayer to renew our spirit.

We also take care of our environment. We keep it clean, neat, and healthy. We fix broken tools. We keep everything working so work is an easy flow.

Keep Growing

We keep learning and growing. As Sir Francis Bacon said in his essay Of Studies:

Wise men use them [studies] . . . There is no . . . impediment in the wit but that may be wrought out by fit studies; like as disease of the body may have appropriate exercises.

And if we reach a place where we have no impediments of the wit, no problems that we do not know how to solve, then we keep growing, we keep studying. We study to be more open, to understand more of the world, the universe, and the people around us. For, as Hamlet said to Horatio, there are more things in heaven and earth than we dream of in our philosophies.

This constant growing, this opening to the new, makes us fresh. We smile to the world and ask what is next. And then wonderful things start to come our way.

There is no magic in this. Being open, we look around. Those who think they have already seen everything do not look for anything new. Those who keep seeking wonder notice the wonder all around us. There is a saying, "a pickpocket among saints sees only their pockets." For the pickpocket, the pocket is the one opportunity he knows. So he will not hear the wisdom of the saints. Similarly, these days, as we rush madly to make our lives work (quite understandably), we miss the flowers, the butterflies, and the wonderful people we might meet.

When we smile to the world, people notice. They notice our openness. And so many of us are lonely or seeking. Be open, caring, and helpful and see what happens for yourself. I think you'll find new relationships and exciting adventures soon appear!

Seek Win-Win Moments

We're all set to go. We're independent and living an abundant, joyful life. We are fine if things go as planned, and we are also absolutely ready for something fresh and new.

Independent, Not Needy

Because we are living towards our goals and seeing progress, because we have solved some of our own problems, we have confidence that we don't need any one specific relationship to work, or any one specific magic thing to happen. We are secure in ourselves; we have genuine self-confidence. We are relaxed, but not arrogant.

We can say "no" to anything that does not work.

And, because we can say "no," we are free to say a tentative "yes." We don't jump at every opportunity. But we do move freely and openly. We do care, and we do express interest.

I think this will be different for you than it is for me. You see, you are different from me, and your destiny is different from mine. We are seeking different things. We have different gifts to offer. And different people will come into your life and into mine.

I don't know how it will be for you, except that it will be wonderful. You see, as long as you can say, "no," you can keep yourself safe. So if something comes along that is not wonderful, that is not better than the independent, successful life you have already, just say, "no."

And say "yes" to the wonderful. Wonderful moments are here for you to pick up anytime.

I don't know how it will be for you, but I can share how it is for me. A couple of days ago, I was shopping at the supermarket. The guy in front of me got a crazy bill - over $300 for 2 bags of groceries. I helped him figure out what was wrong. He noticed my San Diego sweatshirt and asked if I had lived there. I could have just said, "no." But instead, I was open, and I shared a fun story about how I had been to San Diego. Then I asked if he had been there, and why. And it turned out we are in the same line of work. I got his email address and phone, and we may do some business together.

And there was a young woman in line right behind me. She had a question about nutrition, and the cashier didn't know the answer, but I did. So I helped out. And I'd seen she picked up a magazine on meditation. I asked her if she meditated. She said no, but that she wanted to learn. We spent a fine hour together where I told her about my pilgrimage to India, the life of the Buddha, and the essence of Zen meditation. At the end of the hour, I had really made a difference in her life, I'd connected with some fine memories, and I felt wonderful. It was a Win-Win Moment.

I met two friends and had an enjoyable Friday evening. I will send a thank-you note to each of them.

And I know, from experience, the odds are less than 1 in 100 that I will hear from them again.

But if I do this every week, that's 2 people a week, or 100 people a year. One of those might be my next business partner, my next meditation student, perhaps my next teacher. In fact, this is exactly how I met my qigong teacher, Harold. Or the co-author of my next book, or the person who will teach me scuba diving or bungee jumping. Anything is possible.

If I can say "no," I can say "yes." And life becomes an incredible adventure, at least for a few moments.

Joy is Here


Joyful, Powerful, and Ready for More

Please understand. 95% of my time, I invest in my own life plan. I do what I have worked out in my Weekly Compass. I focus on my own success, my gifts to those I love, and my character, keeping my commitments. And I grow and learn through reading, time alone, and time in nature.

But 5% of my time - that's about 8 hours a week - I open myself to the world. I do it at the grocery line. I do it online, through reading hubs, browsing the web, and exploring social media. I do it through acts of service, like being a HubGreeter and by Hopping Hubs. And when I do meet someone, I send them a thank-you note and let them know how to reach me.

As I say, 99% of the time, that goes nowhere. A few times, it leads to a friendly discussion, a tip shared, a bit of joy or wisdom, a Win-Win Moment.

And, last year, it was how I met my qigong teacher, who has become a mentor, a source of wisdom, and an endless supply of laughter. We're just beginning to grow together, and we see years of good fortune ahead of us.

That is what it means to be joyful, powerful, and ready for more:

  • Joyful. I feel life as a flow of joy, even when it is full of problems. I am dancing my life, and it feels wonderful.
  • Powerful. If no connection works out, I live my life as planned. In the past year, I've written over 100 articles and set up a whole new life as a writer onliine. And whenever one of these connections does work, synergy is possible: The results may be even 50 times more powerful.
  • Ready for More. My life is already full of wonder. But each of these moments makes it more wonderful!

I hope you will join me in this dance of life. Leave a comment below, and share with me one of your Win-Win Moments.

You never know, maybe we're meant to dance together into creativity or success or joy.

When is the last time . . .

When is the last time you opened up to something - or someone - new in your life?

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