Value, Giving and Kindness - How I reached some uncomfortable realisations about my own generosity.

Roland Hanekroot is a big guy. His impressive dimensions and powerful posture are amplified by his quirky European style. He has this magnetic quality. You find yourself being drawn to him and wanting to engage in deep conversation. As a business coach extraordinaire these are all great qualities for Roland to have but I think the one quality that makes Roland so attractive to others is that he is a Giver. Enjoy Roland’s thoughts on this subject in this truly wonderful post.

Reading the two Go-Givers books written by Bob Burg and John David Mann as well as Adam Grant’s brilliant book, ‘Give and Take’, recently has given me pause for thought.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve spent a lot of my life missing the point. Whereas I’ve considered myself a generous person I’ve probably ‘acted’ more generous than I really am and where I have acted as a giver I’ve probably done so in-effectively.

In the Go-Givers books a case is made that to be successful you have to follow 5 ‘Laws’. The first Law being that: “Your true worth is determined by how much in value you give than you are paid in money”

And in ‘Give and Take’ Adam Grant divides the world in three groups, Givers, Takers and Matchers.

  • The Giver’s approach to life is to give without expectation of return
  • The Matcher’s approach is to give in expectation or condition of return
  • And Taker’s feel most comfortable when they gain more than they give

Contrary to expectation, Matchers and Takers are not the most successful people in life, nor the least. Givers occupy the bottom as well as the top of the success spectrum.

There is however a significant difference between successful and unsuccessful givers.

Unsuccessful givers, as a whole, are selfless givers, they are the people who give and give and give even if it’s actually against their own best interest to continue to do so. They are often the people who end up burning out and turning bitter and disappointed with life.

Otherish Givers

Successful givers are just as generous as unsuccessful givers and they also give without expectation of return, but they are tuned into themselves and they know how to keep their life in balance, they understand about boundaries and know how to nourish themselves. Adam Grant refers to these Givers as ‘Otherish Givers’.

I carried out a survey online - www.giveandtake.com - that is part of the book and the outcome was telling. The survey indicates that I am just as much a Matcher as I am a Giver and although the survey didn’t specifically measure what kind of Giver I was. I suspect that my giving is more Selfless than Otherish.

Otherish Givers rarely feel regret when giving, they aren’t looking for reward or recompense for their giving, they simply give because they feel best that way.

I don’t… I often end up giving while keeping my fingers crossed that my gift will have the desired reciprocal effect and I’ll gain as much or more as a result of my giving in return, somehow. And when I don’t… more often than not, I feel cheated.

That’s an uncomfortable realisation.

The beauty of reading both the Go-Givers books as well as Adam Grant’s book is that they complement each other.

You see, it’s quite easy for a sceptic like myself to dismiss the first Go-Giver book as fantasy. The Go-Giver story is written as a fable, or parable, fiction in other words. The critic on my shoulder quite happily pooh poohed the book, the first time I read it.

But since reading “Give and Take” my critic isn’t quite so confident anymore. Adam Grant is a serious scientist, he has undertaken his own serious scientific research, he quotes various other big name serious researchers around the world and interviews a number of serious Otherish Givers in the book. It would seem, Otherish Givers are more often than not highly successful… not so much in spite of their altruism, but because of it.

Maybe it’s time for me to sit up and take note.

Kindness

At the same time, while all of this stuff is running around in my head I’ve also been reading and thinking a lot about Kindness, Gentleness and Vulnerability.

I used to think that to help myself and my clients in small business I needed to read books and biographies with titles such as ‘The Art of War’ and ‘Screw it, let’s do it’ and put into practice all the clichés from the world’s motivational gurus. Wisdoms such as these: ‘You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.’

But these days I find myself listening to professor Brene Brown about courage and vulnerability; to Anne Lamott about being kind to yourself and to the reverend Graham Long about ‘meeting the other’, instead.

What is particularly interesting to me is that the insights from ‘Give and Take’ look to be dove-tailing more with the writings of spiritual leaders such as Graham Long than with famous business leaders such as Jack Welch.

  • Maybe I should be looking to Brene Brown to learn how to build businesses rather than Michael Gerber.
  • Maybe Anne Lamott can show me more about leadership than Steve Jobs can.
  • Maybe Graham Long can teach me more about selling than Zig Ziglar.

Interesting questions, right?

So to start with, this is what I’m going to do. One of the interviewees in Adam Grant’s book is an Otherish Giver called Adam Rifkin. Rifkin says: ‘You should be prepared to do a favour that takes 5 minutes or less to do for anyone’

So that’s what I am going to try to practice from here forth. I’m going to be on the lookout to do a few 5 minute favours for anyone, every week… just because.

Roland Hanekroot is a business coach, mentor and author. You can download Roland’s first book: The Ten Truths for building a Healthy Bouncy Business” for free as Ebook or Audio-book. Follow this link to download it now www.newperspectives.com.au/alfreebook/