In today’s thought, from the section on business and commerce, the Dalai Lama tells us that the only acceptable aggressive attitude is a recognition of our unique talents, and a rock-solid determination to succeed.
Hang on a minute: the *only* aggressive attitude? I mean, you have to be a bit ruthless to make it in business, don’t you? What about beating up suppliers for the best price? What about creaming the competition? What about taking the market by storm?
Well, yes, you do have to be determined in business. And you can apply that determination to destruction, to getting one over on those you interact with. But let me share something from my own experience – one of my bigger mistakes as a Key Account Manager in the corporate world was the day I, erm, negotiated a new deal with B&Q, and slipped something past the buyer that cost him about as much off his bonus as it added to mine. A real zero-sum game. What seemed like a clever trick to make us successful could easily have cost us the £6m contract – and I had to fight very hard to keep it.
Or, you can apply your determination to creating value for everyone all along the supply chain. The point is, business takes a lot of energy to be successful – and that energy is best expended in directions where it will meet the least resistance. If you are spending time and effort trying to do others down, you can’t be focussing on your unique value. Instead of trying to increase your slice of the pie, far better to be working together to create a bigger pie. It’s what economists call value creation versus value appropriation.
This is not about allowing others to walk all over you – it’s what Stephen Covey was talking about in Habit 4 (Think Win-Win) of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Think Win-Win. If others get more out of a deal than you do, that’s not win-win, it’s win-lose. And if you stitch them up, that’s lose-win. Both of those may lead to temporary gains, but they also lead to resentment and eventually an escalation of gamesmanship. The way to win-win is by focusing on how you create good things in your world, and how you can help others to do the same.
I bought a neat little book recently - "365 Dalai Lama" - as the title suggests, it's a daily thought from the Dalai Lama. My plan is to use each thought as the inspiration for a blog - and linking the fluffy woo-woo elements to real-world solutions in business and life.