Sunday, 22 February 2009

"Avoid loss" or "go for win". Same thing?

A couple of times I have been engaged in discussions where close friends are having personal problems. To me it sometimes seems as they, i.e. my friends, are trying to avoid to loose more than they try to win. A very simplified view of course!

Trying to play safe avoiding to loose and in that process hoping that it will automatically lead to winning. But that is not necessarily what will happen.

When you focus on "avoid loss" you have included a negative component in your process - "loss".

A more direct approach would be to develop a "go for win" strategy. And not include any negative component that has to be avoided.

How about a boxer . Consider the Champ entering the ring. If he chose the strategy "avoid to be knocked out". Will he become a winner? How will he box? Will he be an offensive boxer? Will he be a worried boxer afrid to be knocked out? Will he feel like a winner when boxing? Will he be willing to take a risk, lowering the guard, and hit the other guy?

And the other way around. If we "go for win" instead. Will he fight like a winner from start? Will he take risks?

Simplified again of course. But still valid I think. For the boxer above. But also for all of us dealing with our personal problems and situation. And of course in all business situations.

When discussing with my friends I have used the simple model belows to illustrate the differences between the two strategies.

In the first small model we focus (yellow border) on "avoid loss". And we hope that that will counteract (arrow with a line crossing) the negative loss (red). And in that process we hope that it produces a win. The win is the goal (filled green) but it is only a potential win (dashed border). And as you can see the arrow producing the win is dashed, meaning insufficient.

In the second model we focus on "go for win" and hope that it creates the goal - "win". The win is only potential here too- But in this model we have no negative effects.

And if you like boxing I think you would prefer two boxer selecting the second strategy below...

A quickguide for this notation can be found at

1 comment:

  1. Yes. modern psychology often assumes that to dive like a phoenix into what is negative will "clear" it of it's hold on you. Somehow you will rise from the ashes after your catharsis.
    In many more situations, leaving what you do not want in the dust and moving toward what you do want works so much better. You cannot go in both directions at once. Also, going in a positive direction is so much