Be Weak Like Water (Or Is That Strong Like Water?)

Nothing in the world is softer or weaker than water and yet for attacking things that are firm and hard, nothing is so effectual.” Tao Tê Ching
Are you soft or hard? Ask people who know you. Ideally, we find a way to be both. This is the ideal of yin and yang; sweet and sour.
As a young, ambitious employee… I would charge around… spouting ideas, giving my opinion in a very “hard” way. I didn’t mean to be annoying or a smart aleck.. I just thought the world needed changing and I was just the person to do it. Sandpaper does eventually wear down the surface… but it’s not the easy way.
Think about the power of water. Think about the Grand Canyon.. (have you ever been there… it’s amazing). Water created this magnificent sculpture. The steady, slow pressure of water creates miracles.
Have a goal? Are you bullying your way there or are you slowly, deliberately applying the appropriate pressure. Guess which one helps you win the war, not just the battle.

Photo credit: Magnified by Nature Scott Robinson

Career Advice: Give

This blog is a rant.

I’m probably getting old and cranky (ok, not probably) but I am tired of people who want ‘help’ — get it through the generosity of selfless people and then boom – they take and take and largely never give back. All the ‘takers’ just stopped reading! I didn’t really expect to change any ‘takers’ but I am hoping to get to the ‘matchers.’ (read on!)

In his research-based book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success Adam Grant (Wharton School)has identified three types of people — givers, takers, and matchers. Matchers return favors tit-for-tat (they care above all about fairness), Takers try to tilt most things in their own favor (focus on themselves), Givers are generous (focus on others).

Most people are givers in their personal relationships. Interestingly, at work, people change. Grant notes,  “An extraordinary number of people who are in a giver mindset at home are a matcher or taker at work.” Only 8% describe themselves as givers at work because most people think “givers are chumps who will fall behind in the game of work”.

Grant’s research shows that givers are among the most successful people in business and may also be the happiest. “There is powerful evidence,” “that givers experience more meaning in their work than takers or matchers.”

Back to my rant. I have probably met one on one with 500 people in the past 5 years. Many people thank me and that’s all I ask. But there’s a whole segment of people (both men and women) who act like they’ve never met me when I see them later. They are so focused on themselves… they don’t even remember meeting me! Often these are the same people who.. didn’t offer to buy the coffee (when they asked to meet me), never asked me one question about myself, never bothered to write an email saying thanks or following up in any way. In the tug of war of life — are you helping to pull for the greater good or shoving people out of your way?

Ok. I’m done.

Photo credit: Navy & Marines in tug of war   NYCMarines  (I wouldn’t bet against any of these fine human beings)