Give and Take--Is One a Better Way to Be?

Posted by Ann Deaton Share Your Voice

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Some of us see generosity as energizing and essential in our day to day. Others view generosity as a synonym for gullibility---generosity creates the risk that others will take advantage of you. I've always been a fan of not being guarded with our gifts, just offering them freely where they make a difference. I trust that each of us is enriched by being generous, not diminished by it. Our gifts are not a scarce resource; instead, generosity infinitely replenishes and enriches each of us. So you can imagine how much I've enjoyed Adam Grant's book, Give and Take, and all the data he shares that supports the possibility that giving is not only NOT necessarily risky. Instead, it can be the key to your success.

Give and Take is a well researched and compelling book about the relative risks and benefits of being a Taker, Giver, or Matcher (one who aims for an even exchange over time). And the surprise to many is that some of the most successful people are Givers. Famous people like Abraham Lincoln, and less famous people like a 98-year-old man who was an early member of Tucson's Freecycle community, an initiative to promote waste reduction by keeping usable stuff out of landfills.  

According to Grant, not only does the behavior of giving lead to success for the Giver herself, it also enhances the experience of those around her. The concept of elevation is the warm feeling (labeled by Jonathan Haidt) that onlookers experience when they observe the generosity of others. But elevation is more than just feeling good; it is being inspired by another. It is seeing the possibility for those same generous behaviors in ourselves. In short, observing someone else's act of generosity can influence each of us to be a better person. Giving is contagious.

Coaching questions:

What opportunities do you have to give of yourself today? How will you respond? What ripple effect will your generosity create in our world?

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Small Ann Deaton I am a leadership coach, and Managing Partner in Bounce. I love to coach and facilitate with individuals and systems experiencing significant change and growth. The clients I work with, regardless of their age or position, are talented and creative individuals willing to look with fresh eyes at their challenges and opportunities, and to take action based on their discoveries. As a result, they find that they are capable of accomplishing far greater things than they ever imagined. What do you want to accomplish today? Who do you want to be?

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