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Goals are more important than the deal

February 3, 2014

“The best revenge is massive success.” -Frank Sinatra quotes

“Harboring anger and resentment is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die”- Unknown

Happy Monday.  I hope you are a Seattle fan and enjoyed last night’s game. Unfortunately I was cheering for the Broncos.

A few weeks ago I was at a hockey game with my daughters when I got a text that a family friend had made it to finals in his men’s hockey league. My daughter asked if he got paid and I told her of course not. “Then why does he do it”.  It got me into along conversation about motivation and why we do what we do.  It even made me reread a copy of “Drive” by Daniel Pink. So why do we do what we do? What motivates you?

There are a million components of motivation and our decision making process. However there is one component I found interesting. It is a need to not feel taken advantage of. It shows its head in the form of a need for fairness but often shows up as anger or resentment. It is so strong sometimes it clouds our judgment.

In the “Drive” Pink writes about   an experiment conducted around the world. A tester tells a subject he has $10 dollars and if they can agree on how to split it they can each keep what they agree on.  If they can’t agree neither gets anything. When the tester offers the subject to split 50/50 or $5 each the subject’s always agree. However, as they start changing the splits and get down to $8 for the tester and $2 for the subject the subjects being tested started declining the offer in high numbers.  Remember when they decline neither party gets anything.  On the surface it defies common sense. If you agree you get a free $2 for doing nothing.  If you decline you get nothing and the tester gets nothing. However, the test subjects declined the $2 because of their sense of fairness. With the tester keeping $8 the subject’s being tested felt they were being taken advantage of and the tester was getting a better “deal”, even though the subject was getting a free $2. Feeling they were getting a “deal” and not being taken advantage of clouded their judgment.  Does it really matter what the other guy was getting? They were getting a free $2 just for agreeing but most couldn’t deal with the other party getting 4 times what they received for doing nothing. The subjects being tested put making sure the other side didn’t get a better deal over their own needs and best interests.

Which is more important getting a “deal” or reaching your goals?   I love real estate and meeting hundreds of great people every year. I have lost count how many times I have had a seller say “I am not going to give it away”.  I have never asked a client to give a home away nor have I ever sold a home below market value.  When I hear that, I know the seller really means they are willing to put their life goals on hold to avoid the perception that a buyer has gotten a better deal than they have as a seller. I watch buyers and sellers all the time make irrational decisions because they want to stick it to the other side.   Half my business involves divorce.  While most are amicable, many represent the need to feel they are being treated fairly. The goal of moving on with life becomes secondary to crushing their former spouse.  It poisons both parties. It is frustrating to watch poor decisions made by great people just because they want beat down the otherside.

Getting to your goals in life is always going to be comprised of a series of decisions or “deals” along the way.  You aren’t going to hit a homerun on every deal, no one does. Sometimes, you need to cut losses. The deal the other side inks is irrelevant to how the deal or decision fits in with your long term goals. The ultimate purpose is to keep moving forward in life towards your goals, just like Seattle continuously moved the chains in yesterday’s game.  The question isn’t “Am I being taken advantage of by the other side”. The question is does this “deal” move me closer to my ultimate goal?  If you are getting divorced your goal isn’t to waste time and energy going after your former spouse. It is to move on as quickly as possible, fall in love again with someone that makes you happy, and get back to living the life you were meant to live.  If you want to sell your home to retire to the beach, the goal of getting your dream beach house as soon as possible likely is more important than waiting 2 years on the market to sell your home so you can be sure a buyer didn’t get a better deal than you.   Focusing on the goal rather than the “deal” is the difference between a company that focuses on short term quarterly earnings and one that focuses on implementing a long term growth plan.

Have an awesome week worrying about your long term goals and not your feeling of “fairness” in  your current decision.  Rock on my friend!

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