Try as he might, Jimmy Stewart’s character in the classic Christmas film, It’s a Wonderful Life, cannot escape his hometown for the carefree adventures of his youthful dreams. Instead, he always puts others' needs before his own. Just before it is too late, he realizes that those contributions to others had been his purpose. I have seen this story played out repeatedly with my friends from independent telcos who could have taken the easy road, but, instead, stayed, or in some cases, returned to their communities to make things better.
Reading Everett Christensen’s book, 60-40 or Fight (How to Get Along with Someone Other than Yourself), reminded me of It’s a Wonderful Life. A central thesis to his book is that true happiness stems from the contributions one makes to others. He contends that in order to make a relationship work both parties have to be willing to contribute 60%. This level of contribution provides a comfort zone that allows for the give and take required for a long-term relationship, as well as for the parties to efficiently complete projects together.
Born with telephone company blood in his veins, Christensen's varied career has included roles in human resources, as a management consultant and a university professor. Returning to his roots, he became president of Christensen Communications of Madelia, MN. Christensen walked the walk he writes about, as his contributions to his community include saving the local newspaper, opening a shuttered theater and other local development efforts.
Christensen’s unique background (he has a MA degree in Psychology) provides a psychological framework to the book, but with understandable, common sense advice. Central to the book are his twenty-five “Christensen Postulates”, such as, “The greatest reward for doing something worthwhile is the opportunity to do more."
The book is an easy read, made easier by Christensen’s advice to start at the summary chapter and then read the first nine chapters. His use of parables and humorous stories reinforces his points and postulates. The exercises at the end of the book provide an effective way to reinforce its main points. This book transcends the typical business genre and is useful for anyone interested in having better relationships with family, friends and co-workers.
[Thanks to Cliff Albertson of Badger Communications for providing a review copy].