The idea of people being givers or takers is not a foreign concept to most of us. We think of Mother Teresa as a giver and Kenneth Lay as a taker. However, Mother Teresa’s form of giving is not what being a giver in business means. This was thoroughly laid out in Give and Take by Adam Grant, which I read recently for a management class. Grant’s key point came down to the idea that givers are the most successful people in the business world – and there is a vast amount of scientific evidence to back this up. However, they can also end up at the bottom, so understanding the reasons why are important.
So, what is a giver in business? The same general concept from Mother Teresa applies – someone who gives (time, resources, knowledge, advice, etc.) without any expectation of getting something in return. The important aspect to understand is that successful givers look out for themselves and prevent being taken advantage of; this group of givers is described as being “otherish.”
For me, the most important thing I took away from the book is that givers can be and are the most successful people. There are exceptions to every rule, but the evidence is clear. I would self-identify as a giver and was given an evaluation of 80% giver and 20% matcher through Grant’s evaluation tool. A matcher is someone who will give, but expects something of equal value in return.
The book is filled with evidence and stories of those who have found great success as a giver. There were several other concepts presented that stood out to me, which I have described below.
- Chunking: By grouping together the time spent helping others, givers are able to focus on their own work more effectively. This could mean volunteering for six hours every other Saturday instead of an hour a day, or scheduling every Tuesday afternoon as the designated time to help others at work.
- Meyer’s Code: This code comes from George Meyer, an accomplished comedic writer whose work is likely known to 99% of every person in the United States. He laid out four items as the giver’s code of honor. They are simple, but often rare qualities.
Show up • Work hard • Be kind • Take the high road
- Grit: This simply means having passion and perseverance towards long-term goals. Grit is more important than raw talent when it comes to looking at what can be accomplish.
- Reciprocity Ring: The idea behind the reciprocity ring is getting a group of people together and having each person ask for something from the group; such as a group of CEO’s or MBA students. People just start helping each other. The examples given in the book range from career advice to process improvements. This very powerful concept boils down to people helping people who otherwise may have not.
Feeling that I am a giver, this book – more than anything else – served as motivation that I am not destined to fulfill the idea that nice guys finish last. Being seen as a giver who takes care of himself at work is a good thing. So, there is no reason to hide that you are a giver – own it and live it.
This really was a great read and I would recommend that you check it out, which you can do by clicking here.
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