The day I walked in the office on Belleview Avenue was one of the best days of my life and I didn’t even know at the time how great the day would be. I never imagined the impact this day would have not only on my career but my life. It wasn’t the consulting firm I was about to join, but the man who would soon become my boss. It was a pertinent day because this man became more than my boss. He became a mentor. A man full of movie quotes and wise sayings. My favorite quote above all quotes and the quote I use almost daily is….what’s the win? I first learned to think about “what’s the win” when we were discussing a business meeting I had just completed with the client. I had an agenda for the meeting and was determined to get through the agenda. After the meeting my boss asked me “how I thought the meeting went?” I said fine. Then he continued into a story of his own when he told me about a meeting he was leading and how he directed the conversation instead of listening, asking questions, and allowing the audience to help lead the conversation. The result was he said he lost an important moment in time. He said he lost what was important to the client. He said sometimes what the client says is what they really care about – not what was on an agenda.
So why are these 3 little words “what’s the win” so important? Honestly, this little verse has been stuck in my head since the day I spent in my mentor’s office. I now use this verse in all capacities of my life. When my daughter who has ADHD has another day at school where she cannot focus “what’s the win” to begin yelling? When my husband forgets something at the dry cleaners “what’s the win” to start nagging? When you don’t get the job you desperately were hoping to get “what’s the win” to get down on yourself? If you go to a restaurant and the server gives you the wrong drink “what’s the win” to belittle the server? Prior to using “what’s the win” – I am ashamed to say I would get upset, yell, be anxious, shut-down, and lose confidence knowing none of these behaviors would be a win in the end. Many of our “not so great” behaviors or reactions we may claim we learn from past experiences, but I wonder if we would do better re-teaching ourselves. Re-teaching ourselves to get what we really want. I consider “what’s the win” to be like a breathing exercise where answering the question allows each of us to take a moment, meditate, and say will anyone win if I continue this behavior? Yes, my advice is to stop in the middle of what you’re doing and ask yourself the question. Think about it – when you have a reactionary response, do you think you’ll get your child to better focus, your husband to stop forgetting things, the job you wanted, the wait staff willing to correct your order, or a meeting to go as planned. It’s not to say you allow unwanted behavior, but using “what’s the win” can help you think through your approach. At times, I’m sure the immediate response is to fight back , but if there is no win in fighting back – then maybe there is a better solution. Maybe it’s best to sit back and listen, to let a conversation to come to fruition on it’s own, to skip a conversation, to parking lot an item, to deem something as unimportant, to let someone else win, etc. Using “what’s the win”, is not always the easiest to implement, but when you allow yourself to stop and ask the question not in spite but in faith – I promise you – you can more effectively reach the results you are hoping to reach. In my own experience, I admit “what’s the win” does not always provide instant gratification, but it will reward you in the long run. A good example is with my daughter. There are many nights where I am tired and would rather not go upstairs with her to sing songs when she goes to bed, but when I think of the”what’s the win” philosophy it helps me know the win is memories and special moments with my daughter. Sitting on the couch may give me short term gratification but it will never give me a long-term win. “What’s the win” helps us have a little more control of situations you never thought you could control. This 3 word golden verse has helped me stop arguments from beginning, to prioritize what’s important, to not upset others, to keep situations from blowing up, to keep myself from getting hurt, etc. It allows me to take a moment, not rush into saying things I don’t mean, to be smart about a situation, and to sit back and smell the roses. If you’re a person like me who says before they think or thinks from their heart and not their head, then “what’s the win” is your best tool in your toolbox. I’ll admit, there are still times I have not used “What’s the Win” when I should have., but I’ll always look back and regret these situations. A good example is with my daughter’s cheer coach. At times I get my head wrapped around what I believe is fair and realize in the end I could have handled the situation way better if I had asked “What’s the Win”.
On this note – the most important piece of advice I can give you when implementing “what’s the win” is to keep yourself from moving forward until you can answer the question. For real tough scenarios around abandonment, emotional abuse, violence, where you’re extremely hurt, etc. – it may take time to find the answer to “what’s the win”. In these times, it’s ok to take your time and to not rush an answer. Again, you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot, not do self care, or do something that can’t be erased or you regret in the long run. In these situations, I have either walked away or allowed some time to pass. If you ever wonder about the answer to “what’s the win” – talk about it with someone you trust and respect such as a close friend or family member, a good work colleague, a mentor of yours, a person with similar faith, etc. Collaborating with others is a good way to help you decipher – “what’s the win.” What you don’t want to do is solely consider “what’s the win” for yourself and not “what’s the win” for others because this will never get you what you really want. It’ll never guide you on the right road.
So, let’s practice how to best use “what’s the win.” Pretend you are at the grocery store and you’ve filled up your cart with your grocery list, but you forgot one item. You decide to not take the whole cart with you, but run to get the one item you forgot. In the mean time, grocery clerks don’t know whose cart was left, so, they begin putting the items back. When you get to the front of the store, you realize half of the cart has been put away. Your inclination is to become frustrated, to begin yelling, and to “say what the heck are you doing – I was only gone a few minutes…you idiots!” Of course, this type of situation would frustrate anyone. However, if you ask yourself what’s the win of blowing up at the clerk is it going to change the situation? Is it going to get you the help you need? Is it going to change the clerk’s behavior from what they’ve been taught; which is to put away items from carts without owners? By thinking through “what’s the win” – there could be plenty of solutions such as seeing if the clerks can help you restock your cart, if you’re short on time using the store’s online pickup/delivery service, the next time remembering to let a clerk know it’s your cart and you’re only going to get one item, or just going back and restocking your cart on your own understanding it is a blip in your day and since you already know what items you need and where they are located it will take you less time. Also, if you live my life – grocery store runs are times when I get to be by myself so, in this case, I would have more “me” time. It’s the glass half full vs. the glass half empty scenario. Lastly, I never expect it, but I’ve seen kindness go a long way. Once a clerk gave me a 10% off coupon for waiting, being kind, and handling a situation with grace since the situation wasn’t going to change. All that changed was my attitude. So, let’s look back again at the two scenarios and further discuss “what’s the win”. In the first scenario when you don’t use “what’s the win” – you leave the store with pent up anger, the clerk thinks you are a jerk, you may be kicked out of the store and asked to never return, and nothing changed about the situation except you blew up. In the second scenario – you were still frustrated, but you were able to come out with more of a win/win situation even if the situation didn’t start as a win.
In conclusion, what I learned from my mentor and other important mentors in my life, is the littlest pieces of wisdom such as “what’s the win” are sometimes the greatest pieces of wisdom. Something as little as saying “What’s the Win” – can change what you’re thinking and put you on the right track. Quite simply – if there is not a win – then what’s the point? My hope is I can now pay forward “what’s the win” to you and hopefully you can begin using it in your own life and your own decisions. Perhaps, if we all begin to use “What’s the Win” when we’re in the middle of the muck, about to go the wrong direction, or want to do better- we’ll all have improved relationships, better journeys ahead, less stress, more faith in humanity, we’ll like who we are and who we become, we’ll enjoy our lives a little more each day, we’ll lead the lives our creator wants us to live, and we’ll truly learn what it means for both us and others to find the best solution for “what’s the win”.