Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reciprocity versus Leverage?

Do you live a life of reciprocity or leverage? For you, is life a reciprocal experience? Do you find that it works for you to extend generous levels of kindness and fairness to loved ones, friends, coworkers, subordinates or even enemies and strangers and the "universe" returns the favor in kind or many fold greater? Or is life an endless series of negotiations, leverage points, specification, deadlines, delineations, guidelines, terms and conditions, personal boundaries, exit strategies and the "universe" returns suspicion, distrust, anxiety, and an edgy unsettled existence? Are you meditating in your off time or constantly checking to see if your corporate and personal lawyer's phone number is still programed into your PDA?

There are a lot of business terms in the leverage concept definition that are hard to avoid. Far fewer terms perceived as being business oriented can be applied in the concept of reciprocity. However, I feel most business deals and personal relationships fail from the lack of reciprocity than fail from the lack of leverage. In the end we can't define, document and legally agree to every detail of every shared experience. We have to trust, move forward and forgive when we come up short and celebrate when we exceed our expectations. It is the power of this trust and the human bond that is formed that creates powerful and productive human relationships and outcomes. Both personal and business.

The first person who articulated these concepts to me is an exceptional executive coach by the name of John Agno. John is one of the most exceptional people I have ever met and he has dedicated his life and career to the concept of reciprocity with great success. My take on John's experience and I may or may not be right, is he ultimately found in his very successful executive level career that a life of leverage just takes to much energy. I may not be too far from coming to this same conclusion myself. I would suggest you check John's website out and if you have a need for some career guidance he is outstanding.

My orientation has always been toward reciprocity. I have been lucky or the "universe" has guided me mostly to business settings and communities of people who share this philosophy. When I have fully trusted it and allowed it to govern my behavior and interactions with people its impact has been truly remarkable. Conversely, the further I stray from principles of reciprocity and flirt with the alluring simplicity of leverage the more difficult things become. There really are no short cuts. Perhaps this has something to do with why I am having such a hard time right now. I am surrounded by a bevy of highly dedicated practicing leverage people who have slowly drawn me away from my personal game plan of reciprocity. That's how it happens folks, it's a slippery and painful slide, so watch out.

The next step in this line of thinking is the difference between leverage and manipulation. This is a very very short step. More on this later.

Maybe some examples will help. Reciprocity = Warren Buffet, Leverage = Donald Trump, Manipulation = Ken Lay & Bernie Ebbers.

Thanks for reading.

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