When I was in my twenties, I owned a collection of companies that sold water softeners through direct sales throughout Texas, where the water’s very hard. I’d built one company in Waco that had about twenty-five employees and was doing well. One person we had hired as a sales rep loved the business and wanted to own it. She had never owned a business before, but she wanted to be me. She and her husband came up with the money, and I structured a deal with them to sell her the business with money down and monthly payments.
I sold it to her for more than I was making as the owner. I remember thinking, “Wow, I’m a great negotiator.” I was young and stupid. Six months later she went broke, because the deal set her up to fail. By not taking care of her interests, I injured myself. But it also taught me from that point forward, it doesn’t do you any good to strike a deal that doesn’t work for the other person. You end up losing too, in the long run.
I’m now sold on a deep commitment to a win-win-win. I won’t do a deal that’s not structured so I win and the other party wins. That’s two wins. What’s the third? Everybody wins. The community benefits, because the deal serves the highest good for the benefit of all.
What’s amazing is that it’s always an option. And if a deal can’t be structured that way, then it’s not for me. I want nothing to do with a deal where I make money and my partner makes money, but the community suffers. As long as we’re going to be spending our lives working on projects, they might as well be projects that benefit everyone involved.
I’ve learned to use a simple formatted phrase for setting my business goals: “It’s easier than I ever imagined to (whatever the goal is) in a win-win way for the highest good of all involved.”
I literally force all of my business goals and all my business plans into this structure. It opens me to the right way of thinking. I’m expecting to be surprised and delighted with how things work out better than I ever imagined, to the benefit and highest good of everyone involved.
Imagine if that philosophy became pervasive!