March 1, 2013

The Science of Sharing and Winning

Last night I attended a talk at the Commonwealth Club of California featuring Po Bronson discussing his new, co-authored book, Top Dog. The book provides insights into the science of winning and losing.

Post-talk there was a long line to purchase a copy of the book and have Bronson sign it. I hemmed and hawed, took a trip to the restroom and gave the line a half-hearted second chance.

Ironically, my behavior illustrated one of the points in the book - that the majority of women, when faced with a competition in which they are less than 20% likely to win, will not enter the "race".

As I approached the sales table there seemed to be two copies remaining for purchase. The sales person was deep in discussion with a patron who wanted to return the three books he had just purchased. Apparently his friend, also in attendance, had also purchased three books for their little trio. As I stood there and witnessed the discussion, the man asked me if I wanted to buy a book and then he decided he wanted to give me one of his copies, "here, I bought this for you." I was surprised and delighted that he would give a copy to a complete stranger - I hadn't even had to compete for it. He was happy to know that I was a teacher and that knowledge gleaned from the book would be shared with my students.

There has to be a lesson in this situation about waiting your turn, being patient, taking your time and then somehow "winning" through the generosity of another. He received a free book from his friend, and in turn I received a free book.