Winning from within by Erica Ariel Fox

A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change

Reviewed by David Hanlon

Erica Ariel Fox helps us understand why we are often our own worst enemy. But, as she points out, understanding and insights alone do not lead to permanent change. You must put those understandings and insights into practice.

About Erica

According to Erica, the most important negotiations we have – the ones that determine the quality of our lives and the impact of our actions – are the ones we have with ourselves.

And she should know.  She is a long-time lecturer at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation (PON), which is regarded as one of the world’s leading think tanks on making deals and resolving disputes, and a founding partner at Mobius Executive Leadership.  She had a good grounding as a protégé of Getting to Yes authors Roger Fisher and William Ury, and a colleague of the three Difficult Conversations authors.

Erica sees WINNING FROM WITHIN as the third in a series of books originating from PON. The first book, Getting to Yes (1981), changed the negotiation game by introducing the famed “Harvard Concept,” which separates the people from the problem. The second book, Difficult Conversations (1999), addressed what to do when you can’t separate the people from the problem, because the other people are the problem. Now, in WINNING FROM WITHIN, she builds on the work of her mentors and colleagues and explores the final component – what to do when you are the problem.


The book has 11 chapters grouped into three parts:

Part one: Create lasting change

1.  Uncover Your Performance Gap 

2.  Discover Your Inner Negotiators 

3.  Work with Your Big Four

4.  Anchor in Your Center

Part two: Balance your profile

5.  Possibilities: See Your Dreamer’s Vision

6.  Perspectives: Understand Your Thinker’s Insight

7.  People: Feel Your Lover’s Heart

8.  Performance: Carry Your Warrior’s Sword and Shield  

Part three: Connect to your core

9.  Perception: Awaken Your Lookout  

10.  Presence: Let Your Captain Steer the Ship

11.  Path: Grow with Your Voyager

Erica quite rightly points out that we tend to think negotiation happens only in boardrooms or when buying a house or business, however we negotiate every time we try to influence someone, or they try to influence us.

She also examines the drivers of our “performance gap” which is where we intend to do one thing, but then do something else entirely.  For example, you want to listen to your spouse at dinner, but get frustrated and start interrupting? You want to factor the input of the whole team, but you make a unilateral decision? You go in planning to offer an olive branch, but before you walk out you lay down the law? This is the Performance Gap – the difference between what we know we should say and do in theory, and what we all end up doing in real life.

Part two of the book introduces the Big Four components of our makeup. These four ”inner negotiators have a range of styles, motivations, and rules of engagement. They have their own interests and preferred outcomes. They also correlate with different regions in our brains.  They are:

  1.  The Chief Executive Officer: your inner Dreamer.  This part of your makeup is led by intuition, and fuels your ability to innovate.
  2. The Chief Financial Officer: your inner Thinker. Here you are led by reason, which equips you to analyse and evaluate information.
  3. The Vice-President of Human Resources: your inner Lover.  Now you are being led by emotion and this part of you knows how to manage relationships.
  4. The Chief Operating Officer: your inner Warrior. 
 This part of you is led by willpower, and excels at taking action. In the work world, the inner Warrior steps forward to tell the hard truth and to take a stand for your values.

These inner negotiators govern your capacity to dream about the future, to analyse and solve problems, to build relationships with people, and to take effective action. Each one enables you with its own skills, unique characteristics, and particular values about leading and living.

 As Erica points out, we have all of these inner negotiators: we just use some of them a lot more often. The questions we should ask ourselves are:

  • How do the Big Four operate in me today?
  • How do I tap more of their skills and inner wisdom in the future?
  • How do I best balance them with each other, as four inner executives working as one team? 

  • In other words, how do I negotiate effectively with myself?

 She illustrates the kind of internal conflict the book is about in an example with "Jared" in which she writes, "Jared has an opportunity to develop, personally and professionally. He's been asked to expand his repertoire. Only in his mind does that mean giving up what he already does well. No one's asking him to trade in his Warrior, in exchange for taking on his inner Dreamer. Again, that's a false choice... As long as Jared believes he needs to choose between them, his Warrior will take the day. That's okay, but it will keep him standing in the same Performance Gap he knows all too well - the distance between how he wants to contribute to Rwanda, and the document management he's doing now.  This is a Gap that Jared can close.  Doing that would change his life.  

 If Jared closed this Performance Gap, he'd feel more fulfilled by playing a more substantive role. He'd earn more money, gaining better financial security.  He'd make a bigger difference on the

 ground for people he cares about, deriving more meaning from his work.  He'd develop a reputation for expertise in shaping international missions.... But getting there means Jared needs to stop shutting out the information that he has a bit of work to do to grow as a leader.  Advice to develop ways to harness his Dreamer's strengths is the farthest thing from "stupid."  It's exactly what he should do to close his Performance Gap and achieve more of his potential."  Similar conflicts exist in people who value and fail to value other combinations of the Big Four and Erica addresses them all.
In Part Three of her book, Fox introduces the rest of your inner team, a trio she calls the “Transformers.” Getting to know these parts of yourself is important, Fox says, because “you are more than your Big Four.” The Transformers serve important functions as well, like an inner Board of Directors. These board members have a common mandate – they share general oversight of your Big Four. Each of them also has a unique role to play in your success and satisfaction. Fox explains each of them one at a time:

  1.  Your Lookout, who actually looks in – paying attention to the Big Four as they’re operating inside of you in any given moment.
  2.  Your Captain, who takes intelligence from the Lookout and then chooses a course of action for you.
  3. The Voyager, the part of you that grows and develops over the many chapters of your life.


Winning from Within is accurately subtitled as “A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change.” The author focuses on self-awareness as a means to regulate one’s behavior to achieve optimal results. The book presents a helpful framework of varying personality traits, motivations and perspectives which it maps to the types of senior executives of a corporation - the visionary “dreamer” akin to the Chief Executive Officer, the strategic “thinker” akin to the Chief Financial Officer, the get it done “warrior” akin to the Chief Operating Officer and the people person “lover” akin to the Human Resources Head.

I think the overall message is good: it isn't a new message however it has been thoughtfully packaged and every leader should find some worthwhile messages in the book.

Unfortunately, there is considerable wordiness in the book that makes in drag in parts. 

“Winning from within ” is available in good bookstores.

David Hanlon is the founder of the Right Mind International Pty Ltd.  He conducts his consulting and training activities globally.   His leadership program, Conversations for Growth®, was a 2010 finalist in the Australian Institute of Training and Development’s Australian Learning Innovation award.

Winning from within by Erica Ariel Fox