Win Condition

Do you ever find yourself lost in the flow of the conversation – having been swept up by the emotional tendencies that follow any keywords or tones said by another? Besides the ever-apparent lack of mindfulness that such a condition has caused, is there another way to stay on track in any conversation? If so, why does it matter at all? Can the goal be met, or the task be completed regardless of the intent of the group or actions of the individual? Well, no. The problem met with a troubled psyche and inability to concentrate on the goal at hand is a broad problem, one that often plagues motivated individuals everywhere. It can be almost thought of as a ‘goal-blindness.’

Just as a trucker who stays on the road for far too long and gets ‘road hypnosis.’ What does ‘road hypnosis’ have to do with motivation and why does it matter to bring up at all? Road hypnosis to some degree is the same type of situation that many goal-strivers find themselves falling into. Their version, or what I call “goal-blindness’ has the opposite effect. Being stuck in the “roads of life,” ‘goal-blindness’ leaves someone to be distracted and completely derailed by all the other factors that they encounter. It makes it difficult to stay on course and complete their task.

I would say that it is fair to assume that when someone sets out to accomplish something, they don’t intend to end up distracted or locked onto the wrong target. Why then do so many people end up lost in their thought process and confused about how to get ‘back on track’? Well, there are countless answers to this question; ranging from the simple reason of people are distracted creatures to the more complex. However, are there any characteristics that if singled out could help to overcome most of these situations and leave someone better able to steer their mind? Yes! That characteristic is the win condition.

This ‘win condition’ is on what grounds their victory is assured, or in this case, it’s what path will help achieve their set goal. Setting a win condition is an absolutely necessary first step if one wants to achieve their dream situation. Incorporating a win condition automatically associates a direction to a goal, and makes it easier to maintain course and avoid the proposed ‘goal-blindness’ that plagues so many dream-setters out there.

How then might someone best utilize a win condition, so that when they attach a destination to their situation, it is possible to achieve it? A great way to answer this and to demonstrate the value it has would be to first show an example that is necessary. Take a simple and commonplace example such as “who didn’t clean their dish?” Although a low-risk situation, it can be quickly become beyond challenging to stay on track and achieve what was set out to be done.

            Character #1 (Mom): “Who left this plate in here?”

            Character #2 (Son): “I don’t know.”

            Mom: Noticing that there’s pizza sauce on it and recognizing he had pizza the night before, “This is absolutely yours! Come clean it up!”

            Son: “I’ll get to it later, stop nagging me.”

            Mom: “Nagging you?!”

Following this example, you might expect to see a list of situations follow, but why is this important? Initially, the Mom’s goal was not to argue with the Son about the dish but instead to have it cleaned up quickly. The Son’s goal was to avoid responsibility and unintentionally left work to be done. However, once the nagging word was added into the situation, it would be expected that this situation could quickly have become hostile. Not surprisingly the Mom could be offended and even quicker lose direction with the conversation, raising tension in any situation.

Having a win condition in this situation could have saved the mother anger and the son needless pestering, so how might that have been better solved? A book, Crucial Conversations, deals very well with a topic like this. It talks about the importance of dialogue in high-stress situations and how taking those extra steps to encourage a calm speaking environment can promote better conversations. Incorporating these principles is beneficial not only for better understanding the nature of a discussion but also on how to better achieve goals.

As is often the case, goals can be accomplished more naturally with the help from others around you. Better structuring your ability to communicate and to do so in a manner that is both deliberate and compassionate helps promote an environment for growth and productivity. Crucial Conversations constantly references a term throughout without directly naming it, that term is awareness. Awareness here is paying attention to the moment as it plays out and responding more appropriately in real-time. Incorporating awareness into the situation makes it much easier to not only stay on track but to adapt to the situation as it happens.  

That is why preparation and awareness are absolutely necessary for surviving the distracted path. The first part, preparation, is much better explained throughout the book, but I’ll relay some of the information here. Preparation is informing yourself of the pivot points throughout the discussion. Teaching yourself that if you want to stay calm in any tense moment, then it begins with incorporating principles of awareness and experience first. In the example I provided earlier, it would be prepping for a negative response from the Son and instead of adding fuel to the fire, diluting the negativity when it first occurs. Stopping and creating a plan of attack is helpful for numerous other reasons, but here especially, it enables you to overcome that much easier.

The second tool for surviving any distraction that is sure to come your way is awareness. Awareness can be seen as a raincoat during a storm. Without it, staying dry (and calm) are things that are just impossible. When you throw on that raincoat however (or improve your self-awareness), you make staying dry that much easier. Being aware of what your intentions are and setting that win condition early, allows you to structure a path that overcomes issue after issue. Awareness coupled with preparation creates an unstoppable duo for completing and plowing through task after task.

Setting a win condition early and concretely is your best defense against whatever will be thrown at you.  Taking those principles from Crucial Conversations and making them broader for goal setting allows for a stronger path to be established. So, how can we build a more aware and prepped win condition – one that is durable enough to beat down distractions as they occur? Simply put, preparation and specification.

Establishing a situation that is both specific enough and robust enough to endure the variables that are bound to happen. Take a classic example like cleaning the laundry room. If left on its own as “to have a cleaner room” you create a situation that is harder to maintain and accomplish. Instead, set a more direct, more solidified goal like “to remove clutter and to establish a more useable area.” In this example, you’ve directed yourself towards the distractions that are to come, “clutter” and enabled a solution to deal with them more objectively, “usable.” The second goal has those filters in place for the reason of avoiding distractions. If you’re not careful, vagueness can leave you stranded against the factors in any situation.

Now that a concrete goal has been laid out, how still can we improve the event and make a more seamless, productive process? We do so by returning to the win condition. Our win condition here is to create a space that is usable and simplified. As you go through drawer by drawer, you are bound to run into miscellaneous clutter, junk, keepsakes, and useful items. Keeping that ‘win condition’ in mind allows you a way to stop a distraction in its tracks and to quickly solve each problem.

Taking that extra step to better define your win condition makes for a more manageable situation. Applying this principle to any type of goal accomplishes the same result! Preparing for the problems beforehand, noticing the problem as it occurs, and designing a system to seamlessly deal with each makes for the perfect game plan against each situation. Instead of setting this year’s goal to “Get Fit” break it down, understand the motives behind it. The more in-depth you go, the sooner you’ll realize that it was less about getting sculpted and more about developing self-confidence and healthy lifestyles. Win conditions allow for all this to be in reach.

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