Make Smart Choices With the “Genius of the AND”

Have you ever faced a situation where you need to choose between two good options? When one option is good and the other one is bad, making the decision is easy. But when both options are good, it’s often difficult to decide.

There is a good lesson in the book Built to Last for such a situation. It’s about making smart choices using the “Genius of the AND” instead of the “Tyranny of the OR”:

Instead of being oppressed by the “Tyranny of the OR,” highly visionary companies liberate themselves with the “Genius of the AND” ”” the ability to embrace both extremes of a number of dimensions at the same time.

When a visionary company needs to choose between two good options, it doesn’t choose one at the expense of the other. Instead, it finds a way to get both of them at the same time. That way the company gets A and B instead of A or B.

This is a useful principle to apply in your life. When you need to choose between two good options, it may seem that you can only choose A at the expense of B or B at the expense of A. But don’t be oppressed by the “Tyranny of the OR”. Instead, make a smart choice with the “Genius of the AND”. When you need to choose between two good options, find a way to get both of them.

This requires you to think creatively. You need to think outside of the box.

I remember an example in the book Never Eat Alone:

I had two days, three people I wanted to see, and only one available time slot to see them all. How do you manage a situation like this?

I “cloned” the dinner and invited all of them to join me.

That’s the “Genius of the AND” at work.

Now think about all the choices you need to make in your life. Can you find a way to get both of the options without sacrificing any of them?

Here are some possible situations where you need to make a smart choice with the “Genius of the AND”:

  • Following your passions or making money
    Possible solution: turn your passions into your career (by the way, the book Career Renegade covers exactly this topic).
  • Advancing your career or spending more time with your family
    Possible solution: work from home. With the Internet, there are many opportunities to work from home.
  • Being more productive or being more social
    Possible solution: involve other people in your work so that you are more productive and more social at the same time.
  • Working more or playing more
    Possible solution: make your work feel like playing by creating contests with your colleagues.

The key here is to think outside of the box. Most people don’t spend the time to think creatively and that’s why they stay with the tyranny of the OR.

It also explains why those who think creatively can achieve much more in life than those who don’t. Just think about it. After a few years, someone who consistently applies the “Genius of the AND” will be far ahead of the one who just applies the “Tyranny of the OR.”

It reminds me of a quote by George Bernard Shaw:

Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.

Think creatively and befriend the “genius of the AND” or think like everyone else and stay with the “tyranny of the OR.”

Which one do you choose?

Photo by .A.A.


  1. Great post. This reminds me of T Harv Ecker’s discussion of differences bettween the wealthy mindset and the poverty mindset. It’s precisely what you are talking about. Shift from either/or to both/and in your thinking.

  2. Steve,
    I like the way you put it. The “genius of the AND” is the wealthy mindset and the “tyranny of the OR” is the poverty mindset.

  3. Donald,
    Finally someone telling us it’s ok to have it all!! 🙂

    I’ve always thought “why not both” – not a common or popular thought process. Many people think you’re selfish if you want both, but I think it’s selfish to not live your life to the fullest.

    Steve, brilliant parallel to T Harv’s message – the difference between the wealthy and the poor.

    Pure enjoyment in your article today Donald!

  4. Great post. I love anything having to do with self development. I never thought about this way of thinking, I’ve always just budgeted my time, but never 2 things at once

  5. Miki,
    For me, using the “Genius of the AND” is not about being selfish. It’s about being smart. If we can achieve more at once then why not? 🙂

    This way of thinking is also relatively new to me. But I’m glad I learn to apply it.

  6. […] Latumahina presents Make Smart Choices With the “Genius of the AND” posted at Life […]

  7. Life is about what you renounce and leave behind, if you take too many OR decisions you will be left with little.You can make many AND decisions, much more than what you think. Be a Renaissance person and have a rich life, they were the Genius of the AND. Thinking out of the box in I have made use of all 4 situations referred to above. Great summary and article Congratulations

  8. You did it again,

    Again a great post!

    Indeed ‘OR’ usually is based on ‘Lack Thinking’
    Once heard a great creative example of this in a Teleseminar about a man that wanted to spend more time with his son and also wanted to work more hours
    to build his Online Business.

    ‘Than he came with a great
    solution to have BOTH’

    It appeared that his son enjoyed working with things like ‘the stats’ from website visitors and things like that,
    something that was a great way to work on building his Online Business together.

    All the Best,
    To your Happy Inspiration,

  9. Ana,

    You can make many AND decisions, much more than what you think.

    I agree. At first it might seem difficult to make AND decisions, but there are actually a lot of opportunities to do that.

    That’s a nice example you shared.

Comments are closed.