I was driving the other day when I had something like an epiphany. The idea is so basic I don’t think it counts as a full epiphany, but still perhaps something worth mentioning. It occurred to me that all human behavior – or at least all American human behavior – can be viewed through the lens of whether or not they believe they have a chance to win. Win what, you might ask? Everything and anything. Can they win with their spouse? At their job? And in a macro sense, at life?
A lot of people have wondered why Trump won the election. I would say that it boils down to the feeling of millions of Americans that they can’t win. They’ve been put into a situation where they perceive no opportunity for the win, however that may be defined. I saw a Tweet of a statistic that many Trump voters earned 60k+ a year, and therefore this was not a working class revolt. But let’s say that’s 60k with three kids and maybe the cost of living is high. 60k is not comfortable in that situation. That voter probably does not feel like they’re winning, or even have a chance to win. Trump, more than anything else, told Americans that they have a chance to win. (BTW – this is not a political statement about Trump or how his economic policies will impact the people who voted for him. Right now I’m only interested in the psychology of it.)
Swinging away from that macro example to a micro one – relationships, be they familial or romantic or platonic – have to offer an opportunity for someone to win. The phrase, “I just can’t win with you,” is a perfect reflection of this. My feeling is, friendships will end fairly quickly if subjected to this sort of behavior, but marriages and parent/child relationships aren’t so quickly dissolved.
Perhaps the most natural application of this idea is at the workplace. When employees feel like they can’t win they very quickly come to hate their jobs. And the bizarre thing of it is, usually what it would take to make them feel like they’re winning is minor.
Again, I understand this isn’t a major epiphany, but it what it boils down to is this – if you find yourself frustrated with your spouse, child, employee, partner, etc. take a look and see if you’ve shut down their avenues to success. In my own head I call it, “the path to citizenship” which I know is strange, but that’s what I call it in my head. Everybody, or at least Americans, want to win. If you’re working in concert with another toward a common goal, so much more power and success is manifested through mutual empowerment, as opposed to diminishment and control.
I suppose what I am really saying is – I see so many people around me who feel like they can’t win. At life, at work, with their spouse, at their passion. That’s such a terrible mindset to suffer under, and I see the ramifications of that mindset everywhere. I’m not sure how we fix it, other than examining our behavior in our own personal relationships.