The Zero Sum Trap


Perception is reality and most of us perceive that we are more productive than we really are.  We take the first step toward something, only to follow it up with other steps that actually take away from the positive result created by the first step.  In short, our actions often create a “zero sum result”.

Let’s do this quick exercise to prove my point.  Below are some activities that create a “plus” or positive result, followed by examples that create a “minus” or negative result.  You can quickly see how most of us live in a points system that builds points (pluses), and within the same day deducts points (minuses), leaving us with zero or sometimes less than zero.  It’s no wonder why we often feel dissatisfied or that we are not moving forward fast enough.

Examples of activities that create a “PLUS”

  1. Getting to the office 1 hour earlier than normal = plus
  2. Going on an outside sales call in person to a new prospect = plus
  3. Working out at the gym at lunch = plus

Examples of activities that create a “MINUS”

  1. You are at the office 1 hour earlier than normal, and all you accomplished was drinking 3 extra cups of coffee before your first cold call is made = minus
  2. Your 1 outside sales call is across town and after travel time and traffic it took you 2 hours to make 1 sales call = minus
  3. After your workout you were short on time, so you went through the drive through at McDonalds = minus

What is the end result?  Add the pluses, subtract the minus and you end up with zero.  This is how it plays out day after day for most people…potentially high value activities that are quickly (often subconsciously) followed by low value activities that create a zero sum game.

Has this already happened to you in 2016?  What resolutions did you make that have already started to fall by the wayside?  What action are you taking, then following it up with a negative action that leaves you accomplishing little or nothing at all…the zero sum game trap.

Here are my 4 quick steps to help you stop living in a ZERO SUM GAME EXISTENCE

  1. Think your day out before it starts. What will I do today that moves the needle of my life forward and not backwards?
  2. Put points to each activity. Does this activity build points (plus) or deduct points (minus)?  Add up your pluses, subtract your minus and you must be in the plus each and every day.
  3. Fill up your calendar. Commit to having limited, if any, white space on your calendar. Get busy being busier, and it will keep you from finding reasons to do stuff that doesn’t matter much.
  4. Be PROACTIVE vs REACTIVE.  So many of us wait until someone needs something from us before we act.  Reverse this…you take control of your life, your actions and your activities so that you are living a proactive existence vs. a reactive existence.

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