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Give and Take

Posted by admin on July 18, 2013

giver2.jpgAre you a Giver -- or a Taker? How do you know? If your career success depended on being one or the other, which type would give you the better leg up? Why?

Twice last week, I read of Adam Grant’s new book, Give and Take. Did you know that in the workplace (when it comes to our careers) we tend toward taking or giving? And that one way of relating is always more successful than the other? So which one are you?

Grant recognizes, of course, that most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum between the two. His explanation of the extremes is useful in helping us understand our own approach to our careers. According to Grant, TAKERS

  • Are competitive
  • Believe they need to be better  than others in order to succeed
  • Are cautious and self-protective
  • Self-promote and make sure they get credit for what they do
  • Like to get more than they give
  • Help others when the benefit to themselves outweighs their personal cost

GIVERS, he says

  • Are other-focused
  • Pay attention to what other people need from them
  • Help others when the benefit to the other person outweighs personal cost
  • Will take time and focus away from their own work to help another succeed

Now, some of you may be thinking, “Yeah! I’m a beast. I’m going to be at the top of my profession because I’m a natural taker. Others may be despairing a little inside. “Well,” you say, “I’m a giver all right. Shucks. The takers will always be more successful, but I still think I ought to give because

(pick one)

a)      That’s what I learned in Kindergarten

b)      That’s what the Bible says to do

c)       That’s my personality

Surprise, surprise. Grant’s research revealed a fascinating truth.

Yes, givers finish last. Of course they do. But they also finish first. Across all professions, whether engineering, medicine, or sales, the givers are the ones who make it to the top. The very top. Takers have to settle for the middle.

So, then. What does this mean for the writer?

Look. Writers are no different from anyone else. Some of us are takers by nature and some of us are givers.

Are you competitive with your writing? Do you work at self-promotion? Do you naturally gravitate toward those who can help your career advance? Do you like to be seen with published writers and agents? Do you prefer leading to learning? You may be a taker.

Do you make friends with those whose craft is not as advanced? Do you take time out from your own writing to read and help another writer? Will you sacrifice your own ideas or even your own success to meet someone else’s need? In a group of writers, do you look around for the unpublished, new writer and pull him along? Perhaps you’re a giver.

The best place to see takers and givers in action is at a writing conference. Some conferences I have attended are full of takers. But I have been privileged to sit with givers as well. Giver writers are not too busy to befriend and help another writer. Giver agents are happy to send you on to another agent if it will help your career. Giver workshop leaders will listen and learn from students.

I can hear some of you screaming. “Doormat! Doormat!” Of course. Neither an extreme Giver nor an extreme Taker (“Abuser! Abuser!”) will be successful. This does not negate the facts of Grant’s research. True givers who give not out of need to be liked but out of disinterested love will soar.

So. Giver or Taker? Your choice.


Posted by Keisha Broomes on
Hi Priscilla,

This is a great post. After prayer time one day this week, I was thinking about my writing career and I actually thought about self-promotion. I always wondered, why does promotion make me feel like I am pushing myself on people? Self-promotion seems to be the name of the game. When you pitch your book, you know that the editor or agent want to know "what makes YOUR book better than the other books on the market with this subject." You know, once someone asked me that and I wanted to answer, "frankly, I don't know that it is better...but I hope that you read it and enjoy it and that other's will too." Maybe one day soon I'll be bold enough to give that answer.
Posted by Priscilla on
Great answer that you wanted to give!
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