THE BLOG

In Business and in Life, Are You a Giver or a Taker?

04/01/2013 12:23 EDT | Updated 06/01/2013 05:12 EDT

"In a world full of me-firsts and gimme-gimmes, the best strategy for standing out is ruthless generosity. Nothing builds trust and engenders loyalty better than unselfishness."

These are the wise words of a young writer, Jeff Goins, whose blog I have been following for over a year now. For such a young person, he has wisdom beyond his years, and I believe he is on the right track.

I am sure many of us can think of examples of those who are the "takers" in life. They run their business in a transactional way. Getting a sale, winning the order, and making more money is their driving force. From their perspective, building relationships is too time-consuming and can detract from their end goals.

While we can admire their focus and ruthless determination to succeed, and even want to help, I've found that you can give and give, but bottom line, it is all about them. And then when you in turn ask for help, they're too busy.

I actually feel sorry for people who have a scarcity or competitive attitude because they miss out on so much. No one is going to rush to their rescue when their business tanks or they hit a life crisis. Why should they? You reap what you sow.

And it is not that you help others because you want to stock-pile favours which you can cash in when the chips are down.

No, true generosity is giving without any thought of getting anything in return. You do it because you want to help, and you can.

Nor is it measured in giving, where you've calculated in advance what you could garner in rewards by being generous. There isn't a life spreadsheet tracking it all.

Sometimes we can be suckered in, but it's a bit like friends where you've been the one always reaching out, making the calls, listening to the problems, arranging the dates. There comes a time when you decide it is too one-sided, and you distance yourself from the relationship, be it business or personal. Sad, but true.

Fortunately I have been blessed by people in my life who have lent a helping hand with no strings attached, no hidden agenda, just the desire to help me and my business succeed.

Like the marketing agency that designed an issue of our magazine, Company, free-of-charge. Doing this work wasn't going to win them the ongoing contract. In fact, after that issue, we actually had to close it down.

Its demise was inevitable given the economy, but by designing this last issue, I was able to meet my obligations to the advertisers I had and was better able to cope with the tough decision I knew deep down that I had to make.

Or the successful entrepreneur who lends her beautiful space and shares her expertise freely, recognizing that an abundance attitude can take you far. Needless to say, her yoga centre is hopping, full of people who are thrilled at finding this safe haven and who appreciate all that she has to offer.

Like any relationship, business or personal, loyalty and trust have to be earned, but can be quickly lost and hard to regain once faith is lost.

As Dr. Ivan Misner advocates, "givers gain."

How Generous Is Canada?