What's the Key to Success? Giving. Giving?!

What if success wasn't about doing your best, and beating out everyone else?  But about giving.

That's the theory of Wharton professor Adam Grant, who believes that "givers (who help others without selfish motivation), takers (who take without giving in return) and matchers (who strive for equal trades) can affect our success – both as individuals and at the corporate level."

Christina Hernandez Sherwood writes at smartplanet.com that

"Evidence suggests that in sales, givers begin with 6 percent lower revenue than takers and matchers. But by the year's end, givers finish with 68 percent higher revenue."

Why is this so?


Grant tells Sherwood that he's noticed a funny thing about the students who come to him: they're not so concerned about making money as they are about doing something for the world.  Giving back.

"I started to notice that the most successful people I knew didn’t wait to start giving until they were successful. They gave first and along the way. As I began to think more about that, it became clear there was an important message that wasn’t being delivered. I decided to try to build a case with evidence that might convince my students and eventually the [business] leaders I consulted," he tells Sherwood.

So who has he met that meets this criteria?  "One person wrote, ‘I want to be a millionaire. Are you one or do you know someone who is? Can you help me become one?’" Sherwood relates he tells her. "I didn’t identify that person as a giver based on the way the request was formulated and the lack of rationale on how being a millionaire would allow that person to help others. In another example on the opposite extreme, I had someone say, ‘I think your work is important and I’d love to help. I know you’re probably getting a lot of people asking for things. Here’s my expertise. If I can help anyone who is contacting you, let me know.’ I thought that was a prototypical giver request."

In the end, Sherwood quotes Grant, "Giving is often counterproductive in the short run and productive in the long run. It takes time for relationships to develop enough to provide value."

Are you a giver or a taker?  You probably know the answer to that right away.  

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