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The Selfless Way To Get What You Want

11) The Selfless Way To Get What You Want

Most people who are successful share a few common traits: passion, hard work, innovation and persistence. But there’s another key ingredient that many often overlook, and that is generosity. How much of ourselves are we willing to give? Every time we interact with another person, we are faced with a choice: do we try to take as much as we can get, or do we try to add value without worrying what we will receive in return? It seems easy enough in our private lives to be givers. Most of us give freely to our friends and family all the time, without ever counting the cost. It becomes more complicated at work where we fear being the sucker.

But according to Adam Grant’s new book, “Give and Take,” some of the most successful people in business – the happiest, the most likely to be promoted, etc – are generally givers rather than takers. Being a giver at work means you simply strive to be generous in sharing your time, energy, knowledge, skills and connections with people who can benefit from them. His theory is that nice gals – who share credit rather than take it and often do favors for others without expecting anything in return – actually do finish first.

Unfortunately, most people are deeply scripted in what I call the “Scarcity Mindset.” They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one finite pie out there. And if someone were to get a big slice, it would mean less for everybody else. The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a scarcity mindset have a difficult time sharing recognition, credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production. Not surprisingly, they also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.

The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of security. It is the paradigm that says “there is plenty of pie and enough to go around for everybody.” And by working together, we can actually make a bigger pie, letting us all take home more than we could when working alone. It results in the sharing of prestige, recognition and decision making. I often say to people: Whatever you want to attract more of in your life, give it away. Want more respect from your peers? Then you have to give more respect to those around you. Want to feel inspired? Inspire those around you. Whatever it is that you feel you’re lacking, give it away.

See if you can make it your default to be a giver without always looking for quid pro quo. You don’t need to be a Mother Teresa to make a big difference in the world. It can be as simple as making an introduction, mentoring a colleague, or helping a classmate understand a concept.

– Ann Mehl


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