Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Almond Acres Charter Academy students are growing their hearts and minds this week by focusing on win-win thinking and creating positive outcomes for everyone. Let’s take a closer look at Habit #4: Think Win-Win and how this type of thinking can help us grow into Highly Effective People.

An Almond Acres Charter Academy student views an image through a viewfinder while another student waits patiently behind her for her turn
What might we find when we use a different lens? Like these AACA kids in a pre-Covid world, our thinking shifts when we try on a new perspective. 

Contrary to what might pop into our heads at first glance, win-win thinking isn’t about giving in, giving up, or giving a trophy to both teams. It’s about cooperation, collaboration, community, and creative thinking!

Win-Win thinking is cooperating to seek a solution that leaves both sides happy with the outcome. Our success does not have to be framed by another’s failure. That concept of win/lose is expected in a board game or a tennis match, but life and relationships are not competitions. Instead of competing, we ask: How can we re-frame a problem so everyone can win? 

Creative Thinking

Win-win requires flexible and creative thinking—it pushes your brain to try something new. And using your brain is fun! Win-win thinking recognizes that there is more than one solution to the decisions and challenges of the world. We aim to help children see that their way plus your way may be the best way

Creative thinking and problem-solving are woven into all of our studies and projects at AACA. The tracks children set down in their brains when they solve a complex math problem or build a tall tower out of wooden blocks also support the ability to look at a social problem and come up with multiple solutions. All of our learning is connected!  

Six Almond Acres Charter Academy students of varying ages sit together on the floor in a circle to work on a project.
When we work together towards a common goal, we can think bigger and honor everyone’s ideas.  The sky is the limit!

Abundant Heart

Thinking win-win cultivates empathy and healthy relationships. If we seek first to listen to and understand the feelings and ideas of our family, friends, and colleagues, we are taking the first step to a win-win situation. 

We can approach relationships with an abundant heart and the belief that there is more than enough to go around. Win-Win thinking means that sharing is not losing. Young children can easily understand that if you cut a pizza the right way, everyone can have a piece. 

We practice perspective-taking when we think about what other people may want or need. We can put our immediate desires on hold so that both parties can be happy. Win-win thinking means we are maturing and building empathy and patience!

Thinking win-win can be a challenge at first, but with time and practice, we see that it is the best way forward. We encourage our students to reflect on what makes this tough, walk a minute in their neighbor’s shoes, and look at situations with a creative lens to come up with new solutions. 

When have you created a win-win situation? 

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students from all communities, AACA is currently in a temporary Paso Robles location until our new purpose built building opens for the 2021-2022 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids! 

Think Win-Win: The Habit of Mutual Benefit!

“Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody – that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense of others.” – Stephen Covey

We have 100,000,000,000 neurons in our brains and each can connect to 10,000 of its neighbors. This is how we can have win-win. Recognizing that there are so many answers to the decisions and challenges of the world. Seeking first to understand the feelings, ideas, and solutions of our family, friends, and colleagues is the best way to start a win-win. Helping children to recognize that their way plus your way may be the best way. But it takes time and energy to stop an listen. I encourage us to find the time to create win-win experiences for our children. 

Mother’s Day was a great example of thinking win-win. If our families appreciate our mom’s often enough and express it with kindness and carefree timelessness, our mom’s are better mom’s. In the long run, when someone else wins, other’s do too. Thinking win-win is the only good alternative to healthy relationships. 


  • Heart – Speak to one another at the same eye level with a cheerful countenance – even when it’s hard.
  • Mind – Solve an equation together so that each person’s smarts can become the others’.
  • Body – Exercising together is a great encourager. 
  • Soul – Talk about personal dreams and how your family can help each person’s come true. As we look into the summer fun time this might be a very important conversation. 

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Growing Great Families

At Almond Acres Charter Academy, we don’t just grow great kids—we grow great families, too!  Our school’s mission is to provide an education that addresses all aspects of a child’s life to create balanced, happy learners. Parents and families are our partners in this mission. We believe in building the circle of influence around children to nurture all that each child is and is becoming.  

When you enroll your child at AACA you gain a community that rallies around children and families. One of the ways we do that is through our Growing Great Families series led by Executive Director Bob Borgault, aka Mr. B. Growing Great Families is a weekly community event that welcomes parents and caregivers to come together to learn something new on topics of interest in education and parenting.

Almond Acres Charter Academy director Bob Bourgault and parents of AACA students pose for a photo with handouts after a Growing Great Families class at Post Robles Market Walk

All parents are invited to attend our weekly sessions held on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. Meetings are held in person at Paso Robles Market Walk and simultaneously via Zoom, so all can join! Enrolled parents are also able to access printed materials through our Parent Square app. 

Mr. B. usually spends the first part of the hour discussing our Habit of the Week and provides a mini-lesson on a new topic, such as neurons, creating a family mission statement, or ways to communicate with your children. He uses current research alongside his years of teaching and ministry experience to crack open these topics in an interesting and helpful way.  

After the mini-lesson, we hold a general Q&A and a time to hear from families. So many wonderful discussions and relationships come out of this weekly gathering.

Powerpoint slide from Almond Acres Charter Academy that states Growing Great Kids. Affirm, stretch and Celebrate

Parenting is a challenging journey for everyone. Whether you are seeking parenting tips, a little more insight into what your child gains at AACA, alignment with our curriculum or even social connections with other parents, we think you will gain so much from our Growing Great Families series. Join us as we AFFIRM, STRETCH and CELEBRATE our role as parents and find out just what makes our community a family.  

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids! 

Thinking Flexibly

Our mission statement reads: Growing Great Kids! We do this by affirming the strengths and struggles of TeRRiFiC citizens, stretching positive and productive habits of mind, and celebrating the awakening of creativity. This week’s habit is all about the stretch. Thinking flexibly encourages us to look beyond the norm and to try the unexpected. Too often, we settle for mediocrity or fail to consider new possibilities. For Christmas this year I built a wood project for each member of my family. To my surprise they turned out to be nice pieces of work. Between YouTube and the right tools, I was able to build things I never thought I could. I stretched myself and am now a little better version of Mr. B. Questioning our possibilities and stretching our thinking can produce new and wonderful gifts in our life.

The 80:20 Rule! If we want our children to think flexibly, think for themselves, and ultimately work our way out of our parenting job within 18 years, it is critical that they learn to answer their own questions. The 80:20 Rule is a general guide to describe how often we should ask questions versus giving answers. Most of the time (80% or so when they are young) our parenting should involve questions and less time (20%) provide answers. It is essential to flexible thinking that a child use his/her own brain to come up with answers instead of using ours. As a child gets older and wiser the questioning percentage should increase and answers all but cease. One of the ways we can look at our role as parents is that our job is to nurture neurons. When we think flexibly and encourage it in our kids, our brain neurons stretch their dendrites and improve electrical and chemical impulses from one neuron to another – this is what it means to be smart! Lengthy, healthy, and active neurons makes us intelligent and capable citizens.

The old adage of teaching a man to fish instead of feeding him the fish applies to this habit. When we question our children they are forced to think flexibly and consider various options and points of view. When necessary, provide 2-3 good answers and let them choose for themselves. Thinking flexibly forces neurons to stretch to other neurons and in doing so, creativity and intelligence improves.

Training Exercises

  • Heart – challenge our mind to seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  • Mind – “Do the math” – consider another way of resolving a problem.
  • Body – write with your non-dominant hand. Attempt a new activity or exercise in a very different way if only to recognize that there are various ways to accomplish something.
  • Soul – identify personal thinking patterns that don’t produce positive results and ask yourself if you might want to consider breathing new life into them.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” Kenny Rogers

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Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision

Yup, ya, nope, a huh, like, um, er, ya know, uh, … Sound familiar? This is confused and inaccurate thinking and communication. Teaching children to be clear and precise with language develops strong vocabularies and accurate statements. Accurate and effective words force our brains to describe what we really want to say and to say it using the right words. Require your children to say “yes” instead of “ya” and to add clarity to vague statements. When you hear universals such as always, never, all, or everybody, ask a question that will probe for specifics. Language and thinking are closely intertwined and when we use precise words we minimize cloudy and fuzzy thinking. Being efficacious with our language builds effective thinking skills and helps children to be stronger decision makers, problem solvers, and investigators.
The next time you want to know how your child’s day went and you are tired of the “fine” answer, ask questions related to productive intellectual and personal habits. Question their heart, mind, body, and soul.
  • Heart – Who did you eat lunch with? Who did you act kind to? What was an example of you thinking win-win today?
  • Mind – What book did your read today? What is the habit of the week? How did you practice math?
  • Body – Where did you play at recess? In what way were you proactive? What was the most delicious part of your lunch?
  • Soul – Why are you happy today? What was the best moment of the day?
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.” – Mark Twain
“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” – Plato
Speak with Good Purpose!
We have the power to choose our thoughts. Redirecting our children’s language from negative to positive can be accomplished with this simple phrase: “Speak with good purpose”. Communicating directly, honestly, clearly, and with positive purpose will transmit truth, kindness, and love. When words build someone up instead of put them down our relationships become stronger and we are happier and healthier. Just because we might have negative thoughts, it doesn’t mean we have to speak them. If what we want to say isn’t going to produce a positive or productive result, it’s probably not worth saying. Restraining our impulsivity and using our wisdom to turn on the “pause-itivity” button will often turn a bad situation into a good one. Speaking with good purpose is the cornerstone of healthy relationships. It fosters a positive emotional environment where people are happier, more productive, and more likely to succeed.
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