Apr 2, 2013

Blessed Are The Givers

Adam Grant likes to help people. He's a professor at the Wharton School and author of the new book Give and Take. A Revolutionary Approach To Success. And according to him, helping other people is the best thing you can do, if you want to be productive and successful in life. I recently came across an article on Grant written by Susan Dominus in the New York Times that is well worth the read (even though it's quite long). Below are just a few highlights:
"Grant might not seem so different from any number of accessible and devoted professors on any number of campuses, and yet when you witness over time the sheer volume of Grant's commitments, and the way in which he is able to follow through on all of them, you start to sense that something profoundly different is at work. Helpfulness is Grant's credo."
"For Grant, helping is not the enemy of productivity, a time-sapping diversion from the actual work at hand; it is the mother lode, the motivator that spurs increased productivity and creativity."
"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."
"Grant would be the first to say that he is not purely altruistic -- that pure altruism, giving without regard for one's self-interest, perhaps does not even exist. When he writes those 100 student recommendations, he says, he gets the satisfaction of helping them succeed. But there are other happy byproducts of that work as well: he might end up the beneficiary of those students' good will later on and possibly inspire them to try to do right by those who will eventually ask them for help."
He does have some research to back this up, by the way. From students working in a call center and himself trying to sell advertisements for a travel guide series to putting up different signs at hand-washing stations in a hospital, he's realized that people are more productive when they're motivated to help someone. So maybe it actually is more blessed to give than to receive...

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