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The White Flag Victory Rule

White Flag

The Mastering You from the Inside Out white flag victory rule is a combination of the old adage, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” meaning that tough or strong people work harder and smarter when whatever they’re doing becomes more difficult, and the law of diminishing returns.  The law of diminishing returns describes the point at which the profits or benefits gained are less than the amount of money or energy invested. Said another way, the point at which the gain isn’t worth more pain. Diminishing returns will eventually become negative returns unless we change what we’re doing.


The Mastering You from the Inside Out white flag victory rule states that one should stop, let go of, walk away from, abandon, sell, etc. whatever it is we’re doing, thinking, or holding on to once we’ve reached the point of diminishing, or in some cases negative returns. And although we may feel as though we’re surrendering and quitting, declare victory instead—victory over diminishing and negative returns, minimal gain, more pain, and doing damage to that which is of value to us.

The white flag victory rule is NOT quitting.  The huge difference between quitting and the white flag victory rule is your passion, commitment and investment. When the going gets tough, quitters quit, but the tough get going by investing everything they have until they reach the point of diminishing or negative returns.  Then they hoist the white flag, learn the lessons the experience taught them, and declare victory.

The white flag victory rule applies to most things in your life.  Relationships.  Arguments.  Debates.  Jobs.  Careers. Houses.  Cars.  Your lifestyle.  Investments. Projects. Plans.  Baggage from your past.  When you reach the point of diminishing or negative returns and there is nothing you can do to make your returns positive, then it’s time to hoist the white flag, declare victory and move on.

Let’s explore a couple things to which your white flag victory rule might apply.

  1.  Disagreements with your spouse/significant other.  How many times do you need to disagree and argue about the same issue before you reach the point of negative returns?  Does last-word-itis reign supreme in your disagreements?  If so you’re most likely at the point of negative returns.  Instead of doing more damage to your relationship and providing more fuel for a potential divorce, hoist the white flag and declare victory. By conceding the last word victory to your significant other, letting go of whatever it was you were arguing about once and for all, agreeing to disagree, apologizing for continuing the argument, and doing something to bring you both back into the present. Go for a walk holding hands, hug and kiss, eye gaze, and breath and sound together. Whatever you need to do to bring all your senses, your heart, and mind into the present away from the disagreement. 

    The same goes for your disagreements at work although you will need to find an alternative to holding hands, hugging and kissing etc consistent with corporate policies to bring you back into the present.


  2. Changing jobs and careers.  The Mastering You from the Inside Out white flag victory rule didn’t exist in 2005.  As a result, my failure to hoist the white flag and declare victory by resigning from Cyberonics and selling my vested stock cost me my career, reputation, $35 million in cash and $1.3 million in annual tax free income.  

    How about you? Have you failed to change jobs or careers when it’s time?  If so, what did your failure to implement the white flag victory rule cost you?  Are you happy in your current job and career?  Are you passionate about and committed to your job and career?  How does your current performance compare with past performance?  What intellectual, emotional, spiritual and financial returns does your job provide you?  Are they positive, increasing, diminishing or negative? Are your returns correlated with your happiness, passion, commitment and performance?  If you’ve reached the point of diminishing or negative returns what are you going to do about it?  If you don’t do something about it perhaps your boss or others will do it for you.  Just like what happened to me and my opportunity of a lifetime for multigenerational wealth and happiness. Don’t forget to consider jobs or careers that you may have abandoned or quit too soon, before you reached the point of diminishing or negative returns and you realized your full potential in that job or career.        

Chapter 14 “The White Flag Victory Rule” in my book, Mastering You from the Inside Out provides you with more insights on the Rule, the potential costs of not applying the Rule when appropriate and in which personal and professional situations I wish I knew then what I know now about the Rule.  It also introduces several related concepts such as the “apology and forgiveness contract.”  More information is also available on my website www.skipcummins.com.

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