Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Give A Little...Take Nothing...Or So It Seems

So I've started and stopped writing this post several times since Sunday evening. On the BoltBus Saturday afternoon, one of my traveling companions (who knows me quite well since he's dating one of my very best friends) handed me The New York Times Magazine to keep me busy (and quiet) on the bus ride down to Philly. Anyone who knows me knows that this is the perfect way to keep me out of your hair -- hand me something to read. I get lost rather quickly in whatever I'm reading and would prefer not to be interrupted until I'm finished.

This past weeks' edition was spectacular and the topics ran the gamut from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (great read) to Adam Grant, the PhD in Psychology and professor at UPenn. You can read the article here...and I hate to be one of those people who highly recommends things (those people are the worst), but really read it. It sorta changed my life. Well, that's dramatic, but it forced me to look at how I work and who I surround myself with.

Adam Grant is a giver. He studies corporate psychology and has written books on the art of giving and receiving (the non-naughty kind that most of you are thinking about right now...or is that just me?). He mentors like a maniac -- his office hours after class are always packed and he almost always says yes. He makes time for coffee and calls with students and other professors. He is published regularly in the most highly regarded journals.

He argues that employees perform far better and are happier in their jobs if they see the direct impact they are making on another person's life. There are a couple of people I know that mentor a lot of people -- seemingly giving up a lot of free time to do so. These people love what they do and they love helping other people fall in love with what they do (or should be doing). I really admire that.

Not surprisingly these "givers" make wonderful networkers. Always willing to take a minute to meet someone or to make an important introduction. You can read a couple of their blogs here and here...oh and one of the best of the best is my Dad. I'm not saying that because we're related and look exactly alike...he knows how to attract opportunities like a moth to a flame.

The Adam Grants of the world are also Energizer Bunnies. They have little downtime and seem to like it that way. I also find that admirable. Lately I've had a few friends ask why I would bother helping someone and I always find that a bizarre question. Well, why wouldn't I help when I can be helpful? I would expect anyone to do the same for me. I think we could all benefit from our shift in thinking: what's in it for me to how can I help?

About six years ago, when I first stumbled into a Gabby Bernstein lecture it was all about being of service. You want to get to know someone professionally -- ask how you can be of service to them and see how quickly the opportunity to really learn presents itself. How many times a day at work do you ask a coworker if they need help? Not your boss, because let's be real its your job to help them, but a coworker who looks swamped? Think about it this way, the next time you look like you're going to cry at your desk someone may come over and say what can I take off your plate? How rad would that be??

I'm no longer making a coherent point, but just read the article and get back to me.

"The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other peoples’ lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves."


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