Are you a giver? Or a taker? Do you freely share information? Or keep your ‘secrets’ close to your chest? What if I told you that being a giver was also the best path to success in business? Would you be surprised?
We’re always told, ‘nice guys finish last’, but what if that isn’t true?
Abundance vs. Scarcity
When I began my first blog in 2008, I was very free in giving information away. I not only spent (maybe way too much) time writing up tutorials and tips that would help my customers, but I also wrote up advice and tips for my fellow business owners.
Some people told me I was naive for helping my ‘competitors’. And that my business would ultimately suffer. As if helping others would, somehow, take away from my business. In fact, the opposite was true: by reaching out to customers & colleagues alike, I built a good reputation for being a knowledgeable source and became a respected expert in my field (which, also turns out to be good for business).
It was a number of years later when a friend of mine introduced me to the terms ‘scarcity’ and ‘abundance mindset’. If you adhere to a scarcity mindset, you believe that there are a finite number of resources (or customers), so anything that a competitor gains is taking away from you.
This is contrasted with an abundance mindset, which is best summed up by one of my favorite quotes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” That is, when we all do better, everyone wins. For example, if you work to make knitting more popular in the public eye (perhaps by publishing great tutorials or conducting an ad campaign), then everyone in the knitting industry benefits because there is a larger share of new customers to go around.
Give and Take
This same contrast is the heart of Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. Adam defines three types of people: givers (who freely give and help others), matchers (who offer help as a way of evenly ‘trading’) and takers (those who freely take help without reciprocating). He argues that while takers ‘win’ in the long run (by negotiating better contracts or pulling a quick deal), they fail in the long run.
With compelling example after example, Adam shows how being a giver is directly related to long-term success, especially in domains where building trust, relationships and expertise are valued.
The current connectedness and transparency in online interactions is only intensifying the importance of being a giver. In centuries past, a taker could pull a shady deal and skip town before word caught up with him. But with your connections and reviews being published on linkedin, it’s increasingly important to remain calm, be generous and put your best foot forward at all times.
Being kind isn’t just a great personal philosophy, it’s a great business one, too.