“You can’t have it all.”
You’ve probably heard this before.
False dichotomies like this are all over our culture, telling us that we have to pick and choose what we can have in life. This often leads us to sacrifice things that are actually important to us for things we think we should put at the top of our priority list in order to get those things that are important to us later. (Though sometimes that “later” never comes.)
Other examples of false dichotomies you might hear all the time (and might believe):
- You can either do what you love or make good money.
- A strong relationship, physical health, hobbies, a thriving career, a happy family life. Pick any two.
- You can have time or money.
- You can have a family or a great career.
- You have to choose between what you want now and what you want later.
- It's us or them.
- Compromise is the key to peaceful relationships. We can’t both win.
- You have to pick a side and fight for it.
It might not even occur to you that these statements are false dichotomies.
In fact, the alternative might make you feel skeptical or cynical.
“You CAN have it all.”
Does that statement make you prickle up a little? We don’t blame you. This might call to mind the struggle to try to have it all, like when one person has too much on their plate and simply can’t do everything, or maybe even feel like something's wrong with them if they can't pull it off and have it all.
The trouble with this is that we still believe we can't have it all and that trying to have it all just leads to burnout.
That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re not talking about overloading yourself or doing things you don’t want to do in order to get what you actually want.
A New Way to Think
It’s easy to get stuck in the either/or mindset of false dichotomies and forget that there's an alternative: the both/and, also known as win-win.
A win-win mindset is the stubbornness to find the best solution that's beyond either of the two alternatives, even if you don’t know what that solution might look like yet.
We’re looking for the next right answer (which might not be the FINAL answer, just the next best answer according to what we know right now). We want the best imaginable outcome, a solution that’s not your way or my way, but far better than either of us could have come up with on our own!
This solution may even change over time as we gain more information, resources, and creativity. That’s a good thing! Aim for the next best answer.
The win-win mindset is important to us here at Redmond because it allows us to look past false dichotomies and find a better solution, to actually transcend the idea of compromise or the typical win-lose situation. We don't look for “solutions” that leave us all lukewarm, but ones that actually benefit everyone.
Part of Redmond’s aim is to transcend common false dichotomies and instead, become something else.
- We can be a profitable company AND a great place to work.
- Our associates can be passionate about their contributions here AND contribute at home.
- We can bring our whole selves to work AND still be a great team
- We can have fun AND change the world.
- We can be happy WITHOUT having to suffer for it first.
Around here, whether we’re looking for a solution to a shipping issue or creating a new model of leadership, we’re looking for the BEST answer, the both/and instead of tradeoffs and band-aid solutions.
It’s possible. Redmond continues to grow over the years, both financially and as a great place to work. These two things aren’t a trade-off, and they do affect and help each other. When associates are happy, we grow financially, and when we’re growing financially, associates are happier. (Not to toot our own horn, but win-win is definitely a thing!)
Now, we're not perfect at it. Not by a long shot. But even having the right mindset goes a long way in helping us stay on a path of finding the best answers.
When you encounter obstacles along the way (not if, when) like insecurities, fear of hurting others’ feelings, that stubbornness to seek the best answer, the next right step, can get you through!
How can you develop a win-win mindset?
1: Stay open to possibility
It might sound cheesy but the biggest part of a win-win mindset is simply believing it's possible.
Because if you don't believe it's possible you're not going to try to achieve it. You just won't.
So even if it sounds kind of corny, you've got to know the next right step is out there, and you’ll find it. Suspend your disbelief for a moment. Then see what happens next.
2: What's important to you?
When you know what's important to you, you know what the final solution will need to include. And then you can start looking for solutions that fulfill those requirements and the requirements of others involved. (This is KEY for finding the best possible answer!).
When you believe the solution is out there, don't give up until you find it! This might mean finding a solution through collaboration with others or creating one yourself. This may take time, but be patient! There's always a way.
4: Be stubborn
At Redmond, our stubbornness to find the best answer is what allowed us to actually find the best answer. (Funny how that works, right?) Without that stubbornness, we would have settled for less long ago. Don't stop searching until you find that next right step. It doesn’t have to be perfect (because perfection just doesn’t exist) but it will be better than either choice in the false dichotomy you refused to let yourself be trapped in.
This might sound overly simplistic, and it kind of is. This is just an intro to a big topic. Developing a win-win mindset is a lifelong journey and something that takes a lot of practice. But the more you practice and the more faith you have that it's possible, the more you will actually find those win-win situations instead of compromising on what's important to you, or to someone else.
No one should have to settle. Don’t let go of that stubbornness to find the best answer that elevates everyone!
Let's put this into action!
Think of a dichotomy you believe in.
Maybe you think you can’t be healthy AND enjoy your food, or you can’t love your job AND meet your financial needs.
Consider the possibility that maybe, there is a both/and out there for you instead of an either/ and/or.
Now, look around you at stories of people who are proof that you can have both.
Do you know of someone who loves their job and has plenty of money? Do you know someone who's extremely healthy and also enjoys a cookie now and again?
Here's the tricky part: Can you believe that's possible for you?
Then, brainstorm a few ways it can happen.
Could you adjust your role at work to something you like more? Could you get training for a job you'd enjoy more and that would pay better? Could you start your dream business?
Could you fit the occasional burger or piece of cake into your diet? Are there healthy foods out there that work with your healthy lifestyle AND taste great?
You don't have to find a solution right away, but be stubborn until you find the best answer. You can do it!
Enjoy the Journey
Can you really have a life that meets all your needs and allows you to thrive?
The answer is yes. You CAN have it all.
There's no quick fix. Developing a win-win mindset is a lifelong journey, and your needs and purpose will change or rather, evolve.
The key is to enjoy the process!
The 3rd Alternative by Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
“Finding Confidence in Conflict” - TedX Talk by Kwame Christian