When you move your focus from competition to contribution, life becomes a celebration. Never try to defeat people. Just win their hearts.

When you move your focus from competition to contribution, life becomes a celebration. Never try to defeat people. Just win their hearts.

From the beginning of school, we are raised in a competitive society in which we are all jostling for highest scores, best grades, best performance and aiming to be at the very top. This, in and of itself, is not such a bad thing because it breeds determination, focus, perseverance, work ethic and tenacity. But there is a darker side to the same equation. Like everything in life, both sides of the equation should be considered and reinforced during the formative years.

One of the core benefits of team sports is the teaching of collaboration. It is a prerequisite for success in life. It is a building block of character and demonstrates an individual’s willingness and desire to put their own interests behind that of the greater team when need be.

The campaign to win other people’s hearts is not a direct path, with clearly defined parameters. Each scenario is unique, and each heart must be won individually. To win the heart of another, one must be willing to put themselves in a vulnerable position which compromises their own ability to be strong, and still defend themselves while keeping from getting scathed in the process.

These details, while seemingly obvious, have a tendency to become obfuscated by life’s needs and pressures. We hit times where it is inconvenient to win the heart of another, or when we are working as diligently as we might and yet there will be those who compete with us in moments when their contribution would be worth their weight in gold. As we navigate these subtle corridors we find our lines of clean demarkation between the respective options becoming ever more blurred and our choices considerably less distinct than this aphorism tries to teach us. 

For example, as we are working to contribute and not compete, we encounter those who feel that our contribution is competitive. No matter how we might couch our honest attempts to be genuine to another, their perception of us enables even the most clearly delineated communication to be confused and misinterpreted. 

I am working through one of the most important negotiations of my career this weekend, and I am attempting to do it with someone who speaks English as their second language. The language barrier that comes between us has caused their ego to inflame and their willingness to be reasonable to considerably diminish… all through lack of understanding of what we are negotiating. In this situation, my goal is not to defeat them, but to win their heart. Yet, with the language barrier and the personality type with whom I am negotiating, the likelihood of our achieving a successful outcome, no matter how genuine and transparent I work to become, the more their ego and frustration at not understanding the complexity of what we are negotiating appears to be the factor that will ultimately undo days of hard work and preparation to have delivered us to this opportunity.

When you are willing to be vulnerable you have options, but eventually, if the other party has not been won over, then your vulnerability becomes confused for weakness and ultimately you are left with proving your strength by withdrawing from the discussion and demonstrating that you are not willing to be trodden upon.

Life… it is a perpetual journey. 

Happy Sunday!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!