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The Most Meaningful Way to Succeed

We often talk about being Givers, Takers, and Matchers with our Learners. They are very much aware of the nuances- their tendencies as well as others. It brings about awareness of needing to protect themselves when being around takers. What are givers and takers? Below is an excerpt from Adam Grant's Givers, Takers, & Matchers.

Givers are generous: they strive to bring out the best in others.

Takers are selfish: they aim to be better than others.

Matchers try to be fair: they trade favors evenly. But they often come across as transactional. You didn’t really care about me—you were just paying off a debt or racking up credit.

Taking seems like the shortest path to the top. But takers often fall by the sword of the karma police. His research revealed that in the long run, giving is a more sustainable route to success… if you’re thoughtful about how you do it.

Raising generous children

The seeds of planting generosity begin early.

It turns out that teaching children kindness prepares them for success. In Italy, the eighth graders with the best grades weren’t the ones who got the highest marks five years earlier, but the ones who were most helpful as preschoolers. In the U.S., middle schoolers who believe their parents prize kindness get better grades than those who think their parents put academic and career success first. A focus on concern for others leads to a stronger sense of purpose, deeper learning, and richer relationships. As a result, along with fueling achievement, caring also boosts happiness.

Parents and educators are endlessly curious about how to nurture generosity. One of his favorite findings is that nouns are often more effective than verbs. When we shift from “thank you for helping” to “thank you for being a helper,” kids are more likely to internalize giving as part of their identities.

The give and take of personal relationships

In toxic relationships, one person is always taking and the other is constantly giving. In healthy relationships, both people give and receive with no strings attached. They grant each other the freedom to ask without shame, accept without obligation, and decline without guilt.

Building cultures of givers

In focusing heavily on our individual styles of interacting, I paid too little attention to how teams and organizations shift toward values and norms of generosity. Some of the key steps:

  • it’s more important to screen out takers than seek out givers

  • Rewards or character call outs should account for contributions to others, not just individual results

  • For givers to come out of the woodwork, we have to normalize seeking help, not only giving it

One might argue that it’s impossible to have givers without takers. We disagree. Givers need people to receive, not take. Takers use others for personal gain, and we already have too much of that in the world. Receiving is being grateful for the generosity of others and looking for ways to pay it forward.

The New York Times magazine story that launched the book asked, Is giving the secret to getting ahead? In 2013, Grant determined that the primary impact has been on people who already identify as givers. They realized they didn’t have to abandon their values—they often just needed to set better boundaries and shield themselves from burnout from takers.

We don't have to convince people that helping others is the best way to succeed. Helping others-giving is the most meaningful way to succeed. Our school culture is infused by this thinking, ROA is full of givers. We'd call this a success.

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