We don’t usually think of helping others to succeed. Yet, in his book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success*, Adam Grant explains how giving can drive success. He is the youngest tenured professor at The Wharton School and has written a fascinating book about his research. It’s a quick read with lots of real-life examples.
(Before you read any further, you may want to take his assessment to learn your style of giving and taking.)
Main take-away for women and parents:
Dr. Grant argues that there are three types of people: givers, takers, and “matchers.” Surprisingly, those with greater long-term success are most likely to be givers than matchers or takers. This was puzzling to me because many women I know tend to be givers, yet I don’t find a lot of women in positions of power. Moreover, many of the mothers I work with are so giving they often feel depleted.
It turns out there are two kinds of givers: those who are successful and happy and those who end up becoming “doormats” or “pushovers.” In my email communication with him, Dr. Grant differentiated the two: “women who give selflessly with regard for their own interests often put themselves at risk, whereas those who balance concern for others with a healthy dose of concern for their own energy and goals experience greater happiness.” He explains these ideas in detail in Chapters 6 and 7.
Dr. Grant also makes suggestions on how people can learn to be more giving and how to cope with “takers” in their life.
“Selfless givers are determined to be in the helper role, so they’re reluctant to burden or inconvenience others… Otherish givers…enjoyed helping other people and often went out of their way to do so, but weren’t afraid to seek help when they needed it.”
It just so happened that soon after I published this blog post, Dr. Grant wrote this piece for the New York Times: “Raising a Moral Child.” As of this moment, it is the most emailed article!
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