Newsletter #539 – Give and Take

giveandtake-coverOn the cover of his new book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Adam Grant is described as an award-winning researcher and highest-rated teacher at The Wharton School [of business]. Grant weaves together research findings, personal stories, and expert analysis to argue that success depends less on passion, talent, and hard-work, and more on relationships.

The book identifies three broad ways of interacting that apply to business but could apply as well to leadership and relationships in general. Takers like to get more than they give – putting their own goals ahead of the needs of others. Matchers strive to preserve a balance between taking and giving. It is the mentality where we help others but with the expectation that others will reciprocate and return the favor by helping us. Givers are other-focused, more concerned about helping and encouraging than in benefiting from other people. Here are two questions from the book: Based on extensive research findings, which group is most likely to end up at the bottom of the success ladder? Which group is most likely to be at the top? Think of how you would answer before reading on. Here is Grant’s answer:

“Across occupations, it appears that many givers are too caring, too trusting and too willing to sacrifice their own interests for the benefits of others.” There is evidence that they earn less money than the other groups, get less accolades, and are perceived as being less dominant and powerful. Givers dominate the bottom of the success scale. Who is most likely to be at the top? The surprising answer is the givers again. Givers, especially those who demonstrate competence, are liked, respected, admired and given opportunities to succeed. In contrast, takers and matchers are less trusted. They are viewed with skepticism and a suspicion that they’ll use others to fulfill their own agendas.

Grant shows how the successful givers set boundaries and don’t let others treat them as doormats. These givers are often gracious and encouraging, but they are not pushovers. For this they earn even more respect, trust and ultimate career and financial success. Ponder how this applies to you and to the people you minister to, lead, teach, coach or befriend. Does this have biblical implications? Please comment.


  1. I have built my business on the verse 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. God has blessed my business for giving and encouraging others success ahead of my own. I love seeing who God will bring into my life each day to encourage and give hope of a brighter tomorrow. Climbing over people and cutting people off the payroll so I can make a bonus is not my idea of success.


    1. Bravo Sue: I like your response. About the time I read your post I got an email message describing an article in September 2013 Scientific American Mind. Here is the essence of the article titled How to Stop Chasing Self-Esteem: “The more you pursue self-esteem, the more your confidence—and happiness—will recede…If your self-worth depends on success, you may be in for a fall…. To feel good about yourself, think less about you and more about others” Interesting, isn’t this!


  2. While we are to love others and look out for the interest of others (giver traits) we are not to cast our pearls before swine and be enablers of sin in the lives of others.
    To me, those most successful look like they are following the example of Christ.


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