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A Winning Strategy

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A Winning Strategy
(click for podcast) (7:46 min.)

I’ve been writing and talking about Zero-Sum vs. Non-Zero Sum approaches for years. “Kind Ambition” even devoted a couple chapters to their differences. They each have advantages and disadvantages, so it really comes down to using the right tool for the right job, as always.

Just for a quick review, in case this is unfamiliar territory, while developing their study of game theory in 1944, the brilliant John von Newman and Oskar Morgenstern made a remarkable distinction between Zero-Sum and Non-Zero Sum approaches. In Zero-Sum games, the fortunes of the players are inversely related. I have to lose for you to win, and vice versa. Examples might include Tennis, Chess, and Boxing. In Non-Zero-Sum, there are options where either of us can advance without the other losing, and both of us can actually advance.

If I have too many apples and you have too many bananas, we can trade our surpluses, and both win. This is Non-Zero-Sum.

In the 1980s, Political Scientist and Economist Robert Axelrod did extensive research into a non-zero-sum game called the “Prisoner’s Dilemma.” In thousands of interaction permutations run through computers, the most points (or dollars in the real world) were always won through a more cooperative process.

The cooperative process gave all players more points, even as they competed. The lesson here is that superior getting along skills make more money than adversarial aggression. That often means simply being more civil and open-minded, so that I don’t incite defensiveness, and everything freezes. There’s a more collaborative mindset involved.

Increasingly, as a species, we’re walking backwards a bit, back into more of the Zero-Sum ways of thinking, when we’ve actually proven time and time again that Non-Zero-Sum results in far more benefits and achievements.

We’re constantly being fed messages advocating competition and fighting in a dog-eat-dog world. Unfortunately, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a highly competitive environment, we often sink to a combative, adversarial mentality, even within a single organization.
This kind of in-fighting is always counterproductive to the actual desired outcome. To borrow from a sports metaphor, you don’t tackle your own teammate and hope to win the game.

No matter who we’re dealing with, burning bridges has never been the most logical approach. We never know when we might need them for something down the line, so even a business competitor could turn out to be an ally.

This means we need to be thinking more than reacting, and most of all we need to communicate with one another; really communicate. In zero-sum there’s no thinking or communication. It’s just kill or be killed. Cooperation requires communication.

The more complex the systems we live within, the more the need for cooperation. We become more specialized and need each other more. Social complexity has grown and evolved just as biological complexity did. And of course, communication played both causal and facilitative roles in this development.

So what can we do to get back on track with a more intelligent, evolved approach to our interactions?

It’s going to start with a mindset shift, as any successful action will. We first need to bring the issue to top of mind awareness, as it’s generally a cultural habit, so a lot is likely unconscious.

Once cooperating is top of mind, we need to start thinking longer-term. Short-term, reactionary approaches are rarely sustainable, and someone's toes often get scrunched. We're in charge; not our phones. We need to stop looking for overnight results. We're biological creatures living in biological time.

Actively look for mutually beneficial solutions wherever possible. Keep trying to put yourself in a “how can we score,” mind-set instead of a “how can I score” mind-set.

Shift the focus of your problem-solving processes, meeting dynamics, and your communications to Non-Zero Sumness, and the health and survival of the vehicle you share will be assured, whether that’s a family or an organization

Want to learn more about how to become the best you possible? How your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward? Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.

     - Ian J. Blei


January Offer -

Lots of ways to plan for the coming year, but what if you had one that isn't just goals on a list? What if you could propel yourself into a mindset that made it all reachable? What if you had all the components in one place to take you and your plan to the top? What if it was on sale for 62% OFF?! Come on over to the site for details, and fee free to give me a call or get on the calendar if you have any questions. We'll light some light bulbs!

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He combines his extensive knowledge of integral theory, the Enneagram, and neuroscience, in a seamless way (truly a Grand Unifying Theory of Everything), and helps you apply this greater understanding to whatever matters to you. He helps you build the trellis which you can hang any flower on that you choose.." - P.R., - S.F.


Resource Links:

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The Integram - the podcast series

Kind Ambition - 3rd Edition



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The Optimizer
Ian Blei,
Director of the
Institute for Integral Enneagram Studies and
President of
Optimized Results



Kind Ambition

Click HERE





Kind Ambition:
Practical Steps
to Achieve Success
 Without Losing Your Soul



Kind Ambition
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Kind Ambition is about you having the tools to slide over to the driver’s seat of your own life.  Circumstances will always be changing, seemingly thwarting our plans, but we don’t have to be  thrown around by them. You can be in charge of your choices and actions more than you might imagine - yet.


Kind Ambition is written for you, as a practical guide you can use right now.  It is a collection of  insights and actions designed to help you move forward and get more out of your life at home and at work.  The chapters hold to a formula of first giving you a new way to look at things, then offering you tangible Action Steps to try them out, and finally some things to notice when you do.





Kind words for “Kind Ambition”


"If you are interested in success, whether it is in running a large organization, a small business, or leading a satisfying life, you will find a right blend of rules, wisdom and wit in a digestible fashion that will serve to accomplish your objectives. The notion that kindness can be blended with ambition and made to work and serve the "bottom line" is enlightening, uplifting and satisfying."

-Steven Kiefel – CEO, Red Pill Media




“An easy to use guide for anyone who wants to achieve real  growth and success. His sensible and practical tactics solve age-old challenges with real, how-to solutions. Best of all, Ian lives his work!”

-Romanus Wolter - Author: Kick Start Your Dream Business
Success Coach Columnist: Entrepreneur Magazine
Radio Host: Syndicated Kick Start Guy Segment




" We all face obstacles in our lives and careers. Some of these come from within, subverting our conscious intentions. The  good news is: they can be overcome.  The techniques and processes found in this book will help you on your way."

-Margaret Heffernan – Author: The Naked Truth: A Working Woman's

 Manifesto on Business and What Really Matters

Syndicated Columnist: Fast Company Magazine




“A scientifically-based, spiritually-awake, (and smart and funny) guide to making the most of your life.  Ian Blei provides the know-how, the inspiration, the structure and all the tools you need in  this straightforward and inspirational book.”

     -Lisa Betts-LaCroix, Past President of SF Coaches
Star of Unapix film, “Dance Me Outside”




" Ian Blei shares his deep insights in simple and straightforward ways.  His work continues to inspire me whenever I feel I'm getting stuck in some area of my life."

-Roy King, III , Director Pacific Development Partners




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