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  • Writer's pictureliatnetanel

Selfless vs. Selfish – what is value-oriented thinking?

Zig Ziglar wonderfully said: “You can have everything you want in life, if you just help enough people get what they want.” Sounds pretty reasonable, right? But when we try to execute, we run into obstacles; whether we like it or not, whenever someone reaches out to us, our first thought is: “what’s in it for me?”. If we want to get help from someone, we must make sure there is an interest for them to help us, or in other words, we must make sure that they too gain some value from us. Practicing value-oriented thinking, while focusing on listening and asking questions, helps us to put the person in front of us at the center, and achieve our goals while providing them with value.

What’s the idea behind value-oriented thinking?

The idea behind value-oriented thinking lies within. The leading goal is to think about the benefit we can provide the other side regardless of our own. Hence, we need to take a few steps back and look at the situation from a wider perspective: what really bothers this person? how can I help them regardless of my own personal interest? When I want to check if I’m in the “value-oriented mode”, I usually think about the other person as if they are a good friend, and ask how I can help them with whatever they are currently struggling with.

How can you be value-oriented in business?

The major issue we all suffer from is lack of time. Embracing a value-oriented thinking state of mind means you need to invest time and effort in building relationships and understand that it will take time to see results from these relationships. Generally, I would say value-oriented thinking is a way of life, but when it comes to execution, I would recommend dividing it into three circles. The first circle (tier 1) should list 10 to 12 potential partners or customers you would like to collaborate with in the following year. You are willing to invest time in the next year by providing value, knowing it will take time to build the relationship leading to your goals. The second circle (tier 2) will list up to 10 people who are important but get less attention. The third circle (tier 3) is the rest of the people you are in touch with. By dividing your energy and time in an efficient and measurable way, you can measure the relationship’s strength through time and realize that some relationships should be treated as ultramarathons, while others have more immediate results.

What is in it for you?

A few years ago, I trained for my first 100-mile race that took place in Europe. Since I had to train in Israel (where I live), I had to thoroughly study the race, and realized that the best way to get the most information would be to talk with someone who participated in the previous year. After I reached out to a few former participants, one of them wrote back to me and kindly answered all my questions. A few days later, I received a message from the managers of the race saying that I had been accepted to the race with all fees waivered. Only later did I realize that the lady who I consulted with was the female winner of the race and she is a world record-setting professional athlete. She is the one who recommended my participation in the race as the only female representative from Israel, and the one who convinced the organizers to accept my application without fees.

Looking forward, here are my two cents

Investing time, effort and energy in building a relationship where we have to wait a long time to reach our goal is hard, very hard. But as the old saying goes: “slow and steady wins the race”. Ultramarathons are hard, but if you keep a steady pace, eventually you can make it. Choosing the selfless approach, that is, focusing on others and aiming to help them achieve their goals , will place you in a position where they truly trust you. Without knowing, I opened up a “value circle” where both the athlete (mentioned earlier) and myself benefited: she helped me get accepted to the race, and I helped her by supporting her feministic agenda of promoting female ultramarathon runners. In the business world, this theme works similarly: once we succeed in realizing the value of the other party, they will probably help us achieve our goals as well. That isn’t a guarantee, but it is worth the risk.

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