How To Win Compassionately

By: MarkSilver
The sword tip waved within a few inches of my belly. I stood there, waiting, and then- clang- she rushed at me, forcing me back down the strip, and made the touch on me. I lost.

I had beaten her easily for a few months- which is no surprise, because I used to fence competitively. Although she was a novice, she beat me on that touch. If it wasn't completely skill (although there was that), and it wasn't experience (I had years more than she did), what made the difference?

She had taken to heart my advice from the week before: play to win.

Play to win? Isn't that attitude for heedless, heartless business people?

Well, it depends on how you define 'winning.' Many of us think about winning as 'I win, you lose.' But, if you go to your trusty dictionary (Ever notice how often I go back to the dictionary? It's a treasure trove of understanding and wisdom.) a different story emerges.

Merriam-Webster explains the history of the word 'win.' It comes from Old English and Old High German meaning 'to struggle.' And, before that, probably from Sanskrit meaning 'desire.'

Desire. Yearning. Passion. Are those sounding a little more heart-centered to you?

I enjoy the heck out of playing to win. It's FUN watching my clients have breakthroughs- and the results that go with them, as they get closer and closer to their goals. It's FUN watching my business accelerate and grow financially.

It's FUN to win.

Simply 'being in service' can become a little mealy-mouthed after awhile. Playing to win adds some zing.

The deadly problem? Isolation.

In fencing, it's a game. The swords have little blunt buttons on their tips, and we wear protective clothing. I play to win, because the environment is set up so that no one gets hurt. If the swords were real, I wouldn't want to play to win. I'd be setting my sword aside, and making every effort at peacemaking I could.

If the game is set-up so that no one gets hurt, and that winning doesn't mean life or death, then it becomes fun. Connect 'being in service' with 'playing to win,' whoo-wee boy! Look out there, here we come.

How do you play to win in business without losing your heart, and without hurting anyone?

Keys to Winning

"And you've just won what's behind the blue door...."

Every competitive game defines how it's won. In fencing, it's the first to five touches, which is far different than dueling, where it's the last person left alive. Look at the environment of your game, and define the goal so that no one needs to get hurt for you to achieve your win.

The guidebook discusses in detail how to do heart-centered goal planning, but right now, take some time in your heart and see if you can find a business goal that feels achievable, fun to work towards, and simultaneously helps you and helps your customers?

Love's labor lost.

If you are leery about playing to win, or have perhaps been raised to think that competition or winning is 'bad' 'unlady-like' or some other thing, start by asking your heart: what will happen if I win? What kind of assumptions does your mind hold about winning? Who won't like you, or reject you if you win?

We take on all kinds of beliefs and patterns about winning based on what happened earlier in life. You can start to clear some of these beliefs by facing them, and letting yourself fully feel the emotions and stories surrounding them. And then sitting in your heart and asking to see a deeper truth about them.

Take your time with this process. The deeper truth your heart shows you may take a little while to surface. Let yourself be willing to be surprised.

Winning really doesn't matter.

In college I was competing in the New England championships for fencing. In my final bout, my opponent and I threw all that we had at each other. At the final touch, I lost 4 to 5.

But, we both took off our masks in astonishment- it had been magical, where we were both in the zone. I still remember it as my all-time favorite bout. I truly didn't care whether I won or lost. But if I hadn't played to win, it wouldn't have been as magical.

Now, go out there and play to win. Compassionately.
Leadership
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