8/5/21: Keep your eyes open for win-win situations

Sent 8/5/21


  • I sold a few team packages to college and high school teams last month. I'd love to get Make the Leap in more young athletes' hands. If you know any coaches who might be interested, please tell them about it!

This week's Think Better Newsletter is about looking out for win-win situations. 

The Idea

Watching the men's high jump competition at the Tokyo Olympics, my wife and I found ourselves wondering what happens when two athletes have the exact same marks. Qatar's Mutaz Barshim and Italy's Marco Tamberi had both cleared every height with no misses, until they each missed all their attempts at the Olympic Record height of 2.39 meters. They were tied.

At any position below first, it doesn't really matter. If the gold medalist jumps 2.39 and the next two jump 2.37, they don't have them jump off for silver and bronze. They'll just give them each silver medals.

But I wasn't so sure about first place. I mean, this is the Olympics. When two people are tied for first, I assumed they would have them do a jump-off. (Though a walk-off would have been even better, and you know they could have done it!)

Then, as the judge explained the rules to the competitors and as the Japanese commentators explained the rules to us, I literally said the words, "In this situation, I wish they could both get gold medals. Why force one to lose?"

Then Tamberi started leaping around and hugging Barshim and it became obvious that, somehow, they were both going to get gold medals.

It turns out Barshim asked if they can both get gold medals. The judge said yes. And with a nod between the two competitors, it was done. Both men won gold. As they should have.

The System

We tend to view many interactions in life as win-lose. This is fine for sports and artificial competitions, but it's very much a choice. Not everything needs to be this way.

Competitions like the Olympics are ostensibly set up to be this way. Their entire purpose is to decide a winner, to declare one person as the best on that given day. Sure, there are silver and bronze consolation prizes, but only one person gets to win.

I may be in the minority, but I'd be fine if we didn't go to 2nd best marks or thousandths of a second to declare places. If two people both "win" with an equally great mark, give them both golds.

I'm not going to start a crusade to change the Olympics. But this is a great opportunity to point out that most of life isn't a sporting competition. Many situations can be win-win if we take a moment to look for the opportunity. So if you think a win-win is possible, don't be afraid to ask. 

In most of life--and sometimes even in the Olympics--playing to win doesn't have to mean playing to make everyone else lose.  

The Question

Are you focusing on winning or are you focusing on someone else losing? 


Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
Co-host of the Fueling the Pursuit Podcast

"Win-win is a belief in the Third Alternative. It's not your way or my way; it's a better way, a higher way." — Stephen Covey



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