What Is Your Sense of the Sum?

What is your sense of the sum? Negative, zero, or positive?

Some people are zero-or-negative sum. They believe that the world is a harsh place, that you have to get your share before someone else takes it, that you have to protect yourself, that big problems are non-existent or someone else’s fault, and that we need a savior to go to battle for our side.

Some people are positive-sum. They believe that the world is full of wonder, that there’s plenty to go around, that our big problems are real and solvable, that all boats float, that helping you succeed helps me succeed better, and that we need systems of leadership that foster more trust, accountability, and interdependence.

Everyone else is somewhere on the continuum between these extremes.

The dance between these extremes is one of the major sources of both conflict and creativity in our world. “If only I can get you to see it my way, everything would be better,” seems to be the universal mantra. But the extremes are not going away. Yet fighting about who’s right can drain our energy and our souls.

Knowing where we are on this spectrum is important. Knowing where our ideal clients and workmates sit on this spectrum (they will sit within a range, usually but not necessarily near us) is also key. We can give our careers a great boost of meaning and reward by choosing to work with mates and serve clients who resonate with our sense of the sum.

No need to fight about this anymore.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Anders Sandberg cc

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