book reviews

Give and Take by Adam Grant – Guest Review

“Success depends heavily on how we approach our interactions with other people.  Every time we interact with another person… we have a choice to make:  do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?”

The quote above describes the main premise of Adam Grant’s super-impactful book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. I thoroughly enjoyed the message of this book and recommend it to anyone interested in improving their ability to develop more meaningful, more effective personal and professional relationships.

Turns out, there aren’t two kinds of people, but three.

Professor Grant informs the reader of various models of reciprocity, intimating each of us are inclined to behave in one or other form.

  • Givers:  Tend to give more than they get.
  • Takers:  Like to get more than they give.
  • Matchers:  Believe in quid pro quo – you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

When Grant first describes Givers and Takers, he talks about Givers giving to the point of their own downfall.  For example, the expert engineer who assists his co-worker to ensure their timely plans are submitted – but lacks focus to ensure his own precision. Or, the science prodigy who spends hours tutoring a friend to make sure he passes the course, but who herself runs out of time to write her history essay…

I was disappointed to learn those who care for others above themselves are the ones who are the least productive, the least effective, the least successful.  However, reading on, I learned the smart Giver – the one who cares for his/her own needs and gives generously is the ultimate Giver – the most effective, productive, and successful!

The best networkers are those who are generous with their time, knowledge and resources.  They aren’t concerned about what’s in it for them.  Networking is about developing long-term, meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships.  They know, in the end, the rewards they will reap will far surpass whatever they have given.  All hail the Givers!

So… how do we encourage a society of givers? The importance of protecting givers to prevent them from burning out is emphasised in Grant’s book. Provide givers with opportunities to give in small ways and encourage them to set boundaries for themselves.

Givers also need to feel like it’s acceptable to receive, too. Encouraging others to look for help does two things: It allows givers to realize where and how their skills can be useful and it shows givers they can ask for things in return when they normally wouldn’t.

Creating a space where givers can contribute meaningfully to their team without fear of being walked on is the easiest way to allow all of us to succeed. In the end, success is not a competition to be won, but a measure of our contributions to the world in which we live.

Much food for thought.

~ Writing in the Fast Lane thanks Rachel Barber for sharing her review of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant. ~

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