Over the years just about every American has had drilled into their heads the "joy of victory and the agony of defeat" as a measurement of their life. We are thought that winning is everything and to the victor goes the spoils. But is this the best outcome?
I was a negotiator for a part of my life, where I was put into daily situations where outcome was everything. It was stressful work and many wouldn't want to do it. Then I one year I was encouraged to take a course in Negotiating Strategy that was put on by the Harvard University Business School. I was fortunate in my career to work for a company that allowed all of it's professionals in good standing to take one annual learning experience outside the company. I chose this particular one.
The teaching of the course was that winning wasn't everything. Of course, the old lesson is that some victories are Pyrrhic, where the outcome is worst because you won. There are three possible outcomes to every negotiations: Win-Lose, Lose-Lose and Win-Win. Our American culture is based primarily on the win-lose model. It is especially true in sports and politics. Nobody ever won the trophy or a seat in the Senate because they lost with class.
So here we are facing what is being called a "fiscal cliff." Two parties in Washington have to agree to compromise on what the country is going to do to avoid some dire financial consequences. And yet both parties are looking for a win-lose solution. Who is going to get blamed if it happens? How will this effect the next election? Etc. This is win-lose thinking that gets nothing accomplished. A curse on both their houses.
Sometimes I don't like living in a win-lose world.