Win-Win or Win-Lose?

J. Keith Hughey


Volume XXI, Number 25 (Issue 1029) June 19, 2023

Win-Win or Win-Lose?

Many, quite possibly most of our systems and models are based upon a win-lose outcome. That should not come as a surprise to anyone. After all, the basis of all competitive events involves the crowning of a winner or champion – be it an individual, a team, a party, or what have you. The unfortunate other side of that coin – the tails to the heads so to speak – is the loser(s). The big “L.” The also-ran. The runner-up. The underachiever. The hapless. The washout. The list of sad labels is nearly endless.

Play a game of rock, paper, scissors? Musical chairs? Monopoly? Basketball? Hockey? Compete in a track and field event? A political race? Golf? Fantasy football? In every case someone comes out on top. As for the rest of the players? It’s a disappointing day.

This dynamic is equally present in business. Compete for a job, a sale, or a promotion? Inevitably, someone prevails. Yet as I consider this, my mind goes to the lyrics of the song, “Happy People,” written by Lori McKenna and Hailey Whitters and performed by Little Big Town. The second verse of that tune begins:

Happy people don’t fail
Happy people just learn
Don’t think they’re above the push and shove They just wait their turn.

With that bit of wisdom as backdrop, might there be a win for those who do not come out on top in a contest? With the right attitude and frame of mind, the answer is an unequivocal YES! But the realization of a win should not end there.

Think about the last time you found yourself in an argument. Due to that ubiquitous win-lose (binary bias) model together with a lifetime of conditioning in that construct, both participants go for the win. More to the point, they go for “I win, you lose.” And why wouldn’t they when they (should I say “we?”) believe their “facts” are right and anyone and everything that differs with them is wrong. Face it, we all believe what we believe is right. Why else believe it? Let someone challenge it, even indirectly, and them’s fightin’ words.

But what if instead of going for a win–lose outcome, both parties were committed to hearing the other party’s point of view – without interruption, direct challenge, or

contradiction? Better still, what if they were willing to practice listening for understanding as well as active listening? Honoring the other individual’s point of view while acknowledging your own and vis-a-versa is far from infallible. However, that mindset can go a long way in achieving a win–win outcome. If this seems impractical or impossible, try remembering there is very little in this world that is entirely black or entirely white. In most cases there is an abundance of gray tones. It is knowing and accepting that truth that ought to inform our views so that we do not fall victim to “it is my way or the highway” thinking.

Soli Deo Gloria

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.1 Corinthians 9:22

J. Keith Hughey

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Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance
Copyright 2023 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

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