If you do a favour for someone, do you keep an internal tally card tracking who has done what for who and then feel abused when the person or company doesn't reciprocate?
You wouldn't be alone. But authors Bob Burg and John David Mann point out in their book, The Go-Giver, that it is the giving without thought of a return that really counts. In fact the entire premise of this modern-day parable is that giving is the secret to success.
In fact they dismiss win-win situations as it does involve tracking, and inevitably one side gains more. It therefore detracts from the power of abundance; of putting other people's interests first. Better they, say, to give, with no thought of what you are getting out of it, apart from a sense of helping someone else.
It is never really quite that simple, however. I know there have been times when I've felt let down by people, for example, who have forgotten my generosity or taken it for granted, but which leads me to question why I was doing it in the first place.
Our motives for giving -- if we even have that kind of mindset -- can be more complex than just feeling good about your actions. Sometimes, while we may think we are being altruistic, in truth, it can be because giving feeds into our need to be needed; or gives us a sense of superiority -- like Lady Bountiful. In other words, our ego interferes with and detracts from the purity of giving.
Perhaps it is when we do something without thinking through the results of our generous gesture, that we are on the right track. It is when we give, with ulterior motives or our own agenda, that the gesture seems phony or false.
Being authentic is one of the other values advocated in this book, with the premise that when you are authentic, it is the most valuable gift you have to offer -- you are being yourself. You are being honest with those around you and real in all your relationships.
I am sure we have all been in situations where we feel uncomfortable and so play a role, rather than being ourselves. I don't like myself when I do that or when I get caught up in posturing to show off my knowledge, expertise or level of success. It is a sense of insecurity that drives that behaviour and it is unnecessary. Plus I know better. One of my resolves of late is to be myself, so what you see, is what you get, warts and all.
The authors also point out that the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. But that means we have to be vulnerable, need help and open to receiving support from others.
While much of what they are saying is how I try to run my business, I am quick to acknowledge that it isn't easy, and yet to live your life in a meaningful way, it is the only way to go. I guess we are all a work in progress and self-awareness can help shed some light on where we need to focus our energies.