Once you discard the notion that things will be easier once you have “it”, everything suddenly becomes more exciting.

Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash

The scariest moment of your life won't necessarily be the stuff of nightmares.

It'll be when the beliefs you've held onto for so long are proven wrong.

The foundation of your life has been built around ideas that are no longer valid, and now you are tested.

Are you liberated or destroyed?

To me, the answer is obvious.

It's freedom.

The process I take to reach my objective is irrelevant to me because I'm sold by the goal.

Take it from Faulkner, who wrote:

You cannot swim to new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

You have to stop believing that there's a 'right way' that needs to be followed. Only then can you leverage the fact that for every destination, there are hundreds of ways to get there.

* * * * *

I'm writing this entry shortly after reading “Start with No” by Jim Camp for the third time. It's filled with wisdom about the art of decision-making and negotiation in one's personal and professional life, and how the best thing to happen to you is for your worst fear(s) to come true.

Here are 10 lessons I learned from Jim Camp.

1. Your Decisions Are Based On Emotion

In a negotiation, decisions are 100 percent emotional. Yes, 100 percent. Research psychologists have proved this beyond any doubt. Our so-called rational minds kick in only after we’ve made the decision, in order to justify it after the fact. Your job as a negotiator is to see emotions clearly and overcome them with precise decision-making. Your job is even to use emotions to your advantage with precise decision-making.


2. To Show Need Is To Bleed In Front Of A Shark

It is absolutely imperative that you as a negotiator understand the importance of this point. You do not need this deal, because to be needy is to lose control and make bad decisions.

Your greatest weakness, when negotiating, is how much you need to do a deal. The more you need to get the deal done, the weaker your negotiating position is. And conversely, the less any specific deal means to you, the better you’ll be positioned to negotiate a deal that is in your favor. Thus, the first rule in becoming a better negotiator is to overcome your neediness.

3. If Your Eye Is Already On A Potential Exit Or Loss, You've Already Failed

When you think win-win, you set yourself up to make compromises before it is certain they are needed. You enter into a negotiation with a defeatist mindset which states before this deal can be completed, you’ll have to make numerous concessions; and thus, you’ll most often find what you had hoped will be a win-win agreement ends up becoming a win-lose with you on the wrong side of the equation.

4. Investment Is More Than Just About Money

The “budget” in any negotiation is more than just money. The real budget has three components: time and energy, money, and emotional investment. And not all of these factors are of equal importance – if time has a value of x, then energy will be calculated as 2x, money as 3x, and emotion as 4x. Your job as a negotiator is to be certain you know both your own real budget and that of the other party.

5. Need vs. Want, Life vs. Death

“Need” is death, and “want” is life. Believe me, this different attitude will be instantly perceived by the folks on the other side of the table. Confidence and trust go up across the board. Control and discipline go up for you.

From the moment of birth, all of us, as members of the human race, struggle to feel comfortable and safe. As babies and toddlers, we need—we demand!—the unconditional love of our parents that is the only source of our well-being. As young children, our demands in this regard increase. We want to be recognized. We wanted to be heard. We want to be liked. We want to be right. Or should I say we need all this? I’m afraid so. And this need to feel okay follows us right through adolescence and into adulthood as we struggle for victory, achievement, success. 

6. A Quick Yes Is The Same As No

Sometimes the adversary is so conditioned by the 'getting to yes' ethos that she starts out with a yes; but a yes, in the beginning, is no better than a maybe. It is not a decision. Your adversary can't really mean yes. Then, hours, days, or weeks later, when this yes is followed by the adversary's subtle if, but, however, when, or some other dangerous qualifier, we've lost our focus and become vulnerable to unnecessary compromise.

7. It's About The Chase, Not The Capture

Goals you can control, objectives you cannot.

8. The Only Way Out Is Through / The Prey Must Think Like A Predator

Whether we like it or not, it really is a jungle out there in the world of business, and it’s crawling with predators. In my work, I often use the image “dance with the tiger,” because the tiger is viewed or even worshiped around the world as the ultimate predator. To dance well—to negotiate well—we must hear the music, we must feel the music, we must be tuned in to our partner—our “adversary”—at all times.

9. If You Don't Know What You're Fighting For, You'll Fall For Anything

People who are unhappy and frustrated in their work either have invalid mission and purposes—“I want to make a million dollars before I’m twenty-one”—or they don’t have one and are serving someone else’s, and some part of them understands this at some deep level.

The mission and purpose are not self-evident. If you work for yourself and do not have one in place, you are working at a great disadvantage. You’re just as vulnerable to working and negotiating on behalf of an invalid mission and purpose as is an employee at a giant, faceless multinational corporation. You must begin to develop one immediately.

10. Expectation: The Root Cause Of Misery

Your ability to blank slate is directly related to your ability to rid yourself of expectations and assumptions, two very bad words in my system of negotiation.

* * * * *

I don't know about you, but reading this book has profoundly impacted the way I conduct myself with others, and how I make decisions on a daily basis.

I used to dislike hearing no until I started interpreting it as 'new opportunity.' 

No, after all, is where all negotiations begin; because knowing when to say ‘no’ is just as important as knowing when to push for a ‘yes.’ It is a sign of confidence in your abilities and shows the importance of setting limits. This creates the space for stronger demands and results.

It doesn't just end there, though. I've learned a lot simply by applying all sorts of lessons to my daily life, and this is what I've found to be true.

Life-changing moments are always the result of snap micro-decisions; unconscious split-second choices nurtured by believing in the process, and in your ability to shift the narrative.

I've noticed that people, including myself, are more likely to fail if we start seeing certain things as such a huge deal. We become overly serious, viewing the pursuit of our business as a massive undertaking.

It's realistically no different than going to the gym. We walk into the gym, narrow down the muscles we want to work on, and come back the next day and repeat.

Don't believe me? Take it from Jim Camp, who wrote:

Do you enjoy being around the perfect person? I don't. People want to deal with a regular person. In a negotiation, being less okay is just showing a foible now and then. Struggle a little. Borrow a pen or paper to take notes. Search for the right words to ask questions. Letting people help you is an excellent way to help them feel more okay. It also says to your adversary, “What you see is what you get.”

When I started out, whenever the words ‘you can’t do that’ were uttered, I took them literally.

Over time, I realized something.

A conspicuous sign of growth is noticing the shift in your options.

Where “you can't do that” once meant no, it grew to mean something entirely different to me.

It translated to “I don't know how to do that, but there is an opportunity waiting for you.”

Jim Camp's excellent narrative shines a light on the importance of understanding your mission and purpose down to your foundation's bedrock.

No is the ultimate form of freedom to reassess.