The 100/0 Principle – The Secret of Great Relationships

“Eighty percent of life’s satisfaction comes from meaningful relationships.”
-Brian Tracy

I have been in business for 45 years—the first 20 years in corporate America, the last 25 years in leadership coaching. For the past 14 years, I have been president of my own firm, The Ritter Consulting Group. I now have leadership expertise, but I didn’t start out that way. Let me explain.

In June 1990, I was fired. At the time, I was a senior vice president with Citigroup, in charge of a major division. The reason I was given for being fired: I had a tremendous drive for results, but many people were complaining about me, saying I had a tendency to run roughshod over people. My attention was on results, not relationships, and the very results I cared so much about were being dragged down by my inappropriate, rough handling of the people around me. After I was let go, I spent a few weeks agonizing over my next career move. I decided to go into leadership coaching—to help leaders not make the same kind of mistake I had made. For the past 25 years, I have done exactly that, working with thousands of individual leaders and teams to help them generate breakthrough sales and earnings results through a dual commitment to both results and relationships. The biggest single factor in my work has been, and continues to be, “The 100/0 Principle”, which became a book that I wrote in 2010, has sold well over 100,000 copies, and has changed many peoples’ lives in business and other walks of life. Here is a summary of “The 100/0 Principle”.

Most of us have heard of the notion that relationships are a 50/50 proposition. It goes something like this: “I’ll do my 50%, you agree to do your 50%, and we’ll have a great relationship.” The problem, of course, is that when something breaks down in the relationship, each person tends to blame the other, to point the finger as it were.

A few years ago, a philosopher came up with a new relationship theory—the 100/100 proposition: “I’ll take 100% responsibility, you do the same, and we can’t miss.” This looked good at first; however, in practice it had the same shortcoming as the 50/50 proposition, namely the blame game by each person. The 100/100 idea also has another inherent flaw. Each person has high, even unrealistic expectations of the other. After all, each person expects the other to take full responsibility.

So, what does it take to create and sustain great relationships with others? It’s the 100/0 principle, where “I take full responsibility (the “100”) for the relationship, expecting
nothing (the “0”) in return.” This may strike you as strange, but here’s the rub—here’s the paradox: When I authentically take responsibility for a relationship with another, more often than not the other person quickly chooses to take responsibility for the relationship also, and the 100/0 starting point is transformed to something approaching 100/100. When that occurs, true breakthroughs happen for the individuals involved, their teams, their organizations, and their families.

Many of us, without fully realizing it, operate out of the principle of “right/wrong”, that is, we determine our relationship with others based on whether we agree or disagree with them, or whether we think they are right or wrong. There are many people in our lives, however, where the relationship is more important than who is right or wrong. In those relationships, the 100/0 principle applies, whereby one is willing to take full responsibility for the relationship with another, expecting nothing in return. Each of us must determine where in our lives this principle should apply. For most of us, it applies to immediate and extended family, friends, and work associates and customers with whom we are obliged to interact.

The old saying is true: If you want to change someone, change yourself first. The 100/0 principle is the simplest, most direct and most effective way to create solid relationships. Shift your thinking from “it takes two to tango” to “I can and will create a relationship
with that person”. Take responsibility for the relationship working, expect nothing in return, and watch what happens!

If you would like to have a complimentary discussion with me on how “The 100/0 Principle” might apply to you or your team, please call or email me: 630-673-4254 or