Does Sheen Give “Winning” a Bad Name?

Yesterday I was working with a client to develop a workshop they have asked me to facilitate in order to help them turn their existing relationship into a high gear, highly collaborative Vested relationship. I came up with a title for the workshop that included the word “winning.”

My client asked me to take out “winning” because of its negative connotation associated with Charlie Sheen.

Well if you listen to Charlie Sheen and his ideas about winning, then the answer is yes, winning does have a negative connotation.

That’s because Sheen is, not to put too fine a point on it, the very definition of a shallow, egotistical and delusional loser. You can see some of his twisted thinking in these video interviews.

They are so nonsensical that that The Gregory Brothers‘ amusing “songified” take on winning—extracted from Sheen’s interviews—reveals a loser’s paradise.

The Sheen song on YouTube is at more than 28 million hits and counting, which may be almost as alarming as the content of the song itself.

Asked in the video if he is bi-polar, he croons, “I’m bi-winning; win here, win there, win-win everywhere.”

There’s really not much for businesses to take seriously from Sheen’s nonsensical answer to the question.

Unfortunately, I think many businesses and individuals may have fallen into the bi-winning syndrome and not realized it. Western culture is especially muscular when it comes to trying to win in business. Tim McBride of Microsoft sums up this infliction with the traditional win-lose thinking well in a quote from my first book when he says, “The one thing we have definitely learned is that saying win-win is much easier than acting win-win…Most procurement professionals are hard-wired to win, which means if Microsoft wins, the supplier loses. We have learned that applying a Vested Outsourcing  philosophy requires a cultural change in how we will need to work with our suppliers…This means exploring Vested Outsourcing one program and one supplier at a time–working to build trust with our supply base and business units that outsource to understand that there really is a better way.”

One business executive trying to break the win-lose drug at a company stated, “Our company usually thinks in terms of win-win as we get to win twice!”  If you find yourself in a potential business arrangement with someone that is bi-winning you should – well – have the intestinal fortitude to resist the urge to get into what one executive coined “deal heat,” which is where you must win at all costs. It’s myopic to think you can take a muscular win-lose approach and turn it into a good deal that is sustainable.

So it’s really quite a scary accomplishment—or perhaps just plain silly—when someone can give “winning” a bad name to the point where even using the word in a totally different, non-Sheen context is a sensitive subject to be avoided.

While Sheen’s refrain on bi-winning is kind of absurd fun, I think too many companies see themselves as bi-winning as well, and that is simply bad for business. Those companies, much like the scorpion in the fable, are dangerous!

Win-win is much more than, as the joke goes, getting to win twice; and winning is much more than Charlie Sheen’s crazy take on it.

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