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🍋 Thanos VS Lemons: How tough conversations can reach win-win outcomes

And the power of picking the right enemy

Incredibly grateful again to this week’s sponsor, my friend Zac.

Every time I read one of his emails, I’m either educated, entertained, or inspired. Sometimes all 3.

So no - Zac from Story Habit isn’t just some rando company who threw money at me.

He’s one of us.

And with that, enjoy today’s Habit Example!



Can 1 skill really change your entire life? Can it get you promoted?...

Get you a raise?... get you a date?... earn you more friends?... make you more money?... 

YES. 1 skill can. That skill? Storytelling. Zac Garside created Story Habit to break down how you can get more of what you want in life by telling incredible stories - in person, online... ANYWHERE. 

New subscribers get FREE access to the Story Habit app - which includes the Storytelling School course and 13 Ways to Grow Your Email List. 


⚡️ Estimated read time: 2 minute 53 seconds.



How do you go from hating someone’s guts to joining forces?

In Marvel’s Endgame, 11 previosly-at-odds “heroes” team up for a mission to retrieve the Infinity Stones.

Even amongst these “good guys”, basically every single one of them had at some point tried to kill at least one other team member sitting in the room.

All that was put aside for one reason.

But how the heck did they all get over their differences?

In the movie The Break Up, Jennifer Aniston’s character gets irritated when she finds only 3 lemons in the grocery bag. She needed 12.

Vince Vaughn’s character shoots back that 12 lemons for a centerpiece is ridiculous - why not just use 3 in a drinking glass, instead of a vase?

Before you know it they’re fighting about whether it’s called the “Sixteenth Chapel” or the “Sistine Chapel” and how many brushes Michelangelo must’ve used.

A silly argument neither of them will ever win, but both will continue boiling inside about for weeks.

Why do some conflicts seem unwinnable?

And why is Thanos a superior enemy than lemons?

Lemons were neither a common goal nor a common enemy.

Jennifer Aniston’s character cared about them. Vince Vaughn’s didn’t. And shouting insults at each other wasn’t going to magically change that.

But in the Avengers story, 11 people (ok, 1 god, 8 mortals, a cyborg and a talking raccoon) who’d literally tried to kill each other before, suddenly became a unified team.



No enemy in the universe was bigger than him at the time, and they all were bound and determined to defeat him at any cost - even reuniting with frenemies.

The authors of the book, Crucial Conversations, spent over 2 decades of research to figure out the #1 factor in whether you’ll win or lose a tough conversation.

Again - it’s Thanos.

Okay, not literally Thanos, but metaphorically Thanos.

Imagine the last high-stakes conversation you had with a loved one where you needed to address something really sensitive or emotionally-charged where opinions varied.

You knew it could leave one, if not both of you, hurt, upset, or even more stubborn than you were before.

Now try and remember, how’d the conversation start?

Did you pick a Thanos?: Something far bigger then either of your own personal desires and represents a common goal or enemy.

Or a bag of lemons?: Something only you really cared about.

One final story to beautifully illustrate a real-life example of picking a Thanos:

Dr. Jerry M. got involved in a disagreement between a surgeon and his patient who anxiously wanted to go home.

The surgeon had insisted they not be discharged until Friday, despite the patient’s swift recovery - not to mention her family had traveled two hours to pick her up from the hospital.

But when he called the surgeon to assure him the patient was healthy enough to leave, the surgeon shot back “Is the insurance company putting you up to this? I mean, why are you pressuring me?”

Dr. Jerry calmly responded, “Honestly, I don’t even know who the payer is. This isn’t about the insurance company. This is about meeting the needs of the patient and the family. They think you walk on water. They were told they could go home, and I’m afraid cancelling the discharge could sully an otherwise wonderful clinical outcome.”

The surgeon’s tone changed completely, and he agreed to do his final checkup later that day so the patient could go home.

Dr. Jerry set aside the lemons and picked the perfect Thanos in this situation: Neither of them wanted the patient to have a sour ending to ruin all the good they’d already experienced.

Suddenly they weren’t at odds - they were side by side, ready to do whatever it took for their common goal.

So before your next high-stakes, tough conversation when you know opinions vary…

Forget the lemons. Pick your Thanos.


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Try it

Before starting your next crucial conversation, begin by pondering, “What do we both want?”

Use the answer(s) to this question to establish a common goal.

If at any point things start to get heated again, take a deep breath, pause, and restate your Thanos.

As long as you remember you’re on the same team, finding a winning solution is only a matter of time.

How do you prepare for tough conversations? Hit reply and let me know!



🎶 My new jam… UP! (song)

📖 Life-changing FREE resource: The Storytelling Habit. Learn to tell irresistible stories that make more friends, close deals, get you dates, or advance your career. (Free app + course)*

🙏 2 days late, but it’s my favorite Easter video. (3 min video)

🙌 Reacting VS Responding to news: My friend’s son is free now. (3 min read)

⌚️ Everybody wants ___ but nobody wants to ___. (IG post)

🌊 You can’t do 120%. (Habit Example from 1 year ago)



Us: *In a building that 100% does NOT have an elevator*

My 3 year old: *sniff*…. *sniff sniff*…. I smell an elevator!



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