Embracing positive-sum thinking

Embracing positive-sum thinking

By: Associate Professor Dr. Ezlika M. Ghazali

Our ancestors lived in a zero-sum world, where gains for one meant losses for another. But fret not, technology and markets have unlocked the door to a positive-sum world, where creating abundance for ourselves can enrich others simultaneously.

Positive-sum thinking is like a magic ingredient that allows us to feed the ever-growing population sustainably. The idea is simple yet powerful: by expanding our empathy beyond our tribes and caring for entire nations, we can create harmonious and prosperous societies.

Now, you might be wondering how this applies to your own life. Well, let me tell you a little secret – when you celebrate others’ successes, they are more likely to root for you too. It’s like a happiness exchange program! Even if a situation seems zero-sum, where someone else’s gain is seemingly your loss, remember that acting in a positive-sum way can be more advantageous in the long run.

Think of life as an infinite game of give and take. Cooperation begets cooperation, just like planting seeds of positivity that will grow into flourishing trees of support. Sure, you might encounter a few defectors along the way, but don’t let that discourage you. Play the long-term game with like-minded individuals, and you’ll build a network of loyal partners.

But hold on a second; it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Zero-sum thinking can sneak into our minds in tricky ways. Ever felt like there’s not enough success to go around? That’s the scarcity mindset talking. Or perhaps you compared your achievements to others and felt like it diminished their significance? That’s the comparative mindset in action.

Banishing these sneaky thoughts is the first step toward embracing positivity. Try adopting a gratitude practice to appreciate what you have and acknowledge the abundance around you. Avoid the trap of tribalism, where we cling to our groups and shun others. Instead, let’s build bridges of understanding and collaboration.

Forgiveness and nonviolent communication are also essential tools in your positive-sum toolkit. Holding grudges and keeping score only weigh us down and limit our potential for growth. Let’s release the burden and soar to new heights!

But wait, there’s more! Surrounding ourselves with positive-sum people and immersing ourselves in positive-sum ecosystems can supercharge our journey. The tech ecosystem is a shining example of this, with its culture of angel investing and equity-alignment. The belief in sharing knowledge rather than hoarding it is a powerful driver of growth.

So, dear Malaysians, let’s embrace positive-sumness with open arms. Together, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our nation. As we break free from the shackles of zero-sum thinking, we’ll discover a world of endless possibilities, where sustainable success and prosperity await us all.

Remember, in this positive-sum game of life, we all have the chance to be winners. So, let’s spread kindness, support one another, and watch as our collective pie grows bigger and sweeter than ever before. Selamat berjaya dan bersama menuju ke arah masa depan yang cerah!

The author is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Business and Economics, Universiti Malaya, and may be reached at [email protected]


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