Some people equate investing with gambling. Both present the possibility of gain or loss, but the similarity ends there.

Gambling is a zero-sum game. If five friends play poker and each starts with $100, at the end of the game there will still be only $500 between them. The money got redistributed, but it did not increase. Every win came with a corresponding loss.

If these five friends invested that same $500, they could possibly all gain and no one else would lose. While gambling is always a win-lose proposition, investing, when done right, is a win-win proposition. Investing, when done right, is beneficial to all concerned. Gambling is not.

In the animal kingdom, most interactions are a win-lose proposition. The lion eats, but the lamb dies. When we think only in terms of win-lose, that everything is a zero-sum game, we’re reverting to our animalistic nature. In such a frame of mind, creating win-win situations, where the outcome is beneficial to all concerned, is all but impossible.

People naturally act in their self-interest, but if you view every encounter as a zero-sum game, you will view every encounter as a win-lose situation. That perspective creates confrontation, not cooperation.

Successful people understand that to succeed in the long run, they should strive for win-win whenever possible. They understand when others benefit, be they family, friends, customers, or employees, they benefit, too.

There will be situations when not everyone involved will be able to benefit. There will be situations when everyone will not benefit equally. It’s not necessary for everyone to benefit equally; it’s necessary to try to spread the benefits equitably, which harkens back to “Is it fair to all concerned?”

“Will it be beneficial to me?’ is not only selfish, but short- sighted. People with that attitude don’t produce loyalty in others. Others will abandon such a person the minute a better option comes along, which it always does. It’s a losing gamble.

“Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” may require more effort and be less profitable in the short run. But in the long run, benefitting everyone concerned creates respect and loyalty that pays huge dividends. It’s a winning investment.