Are You Giving or Trading?
The results never tell the whole story. Of course, the process we choose to undertake is important.
But, our purpose matters … a lot.
Have you ever been around someone that does something strictly to evoke a desired response from another person? Lencioni calls this ‘politics’ in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team for obvious reasons.
When we act with no expectation of anything in return, we are giving. Whether that be giving our time, our thoughts, our feelings, our expertise, our advice or a helping hand, a pencil, a battery, a book.
When we act expecting anything in return, we are reducing the act to a transactional trade. Trading my time for your time, my thoughts for your understanding, my feelings for your sympathy, my expertise for your admiration, my help for your help, my pencil, battery, or book for a debt you will owe me later.
The tangible results are identical.
The fabric of those results is quite different.
Why Should We Care?
Are you truly serving those you lead, or those you love?
Or, are you acting under the guise of service in order to get what you want?
I think the latter is much more common than the first.
To truly give, we have to surrender.
We must surrender our desire, need for affirmation, even adulation of others. Sure we don’t come out and say that’s what we are looking for. What would people think? It’s much easier to stay in the shadows with our mask on pretending to be what everyone wants us to be.
We must surrender our wish for acceptance and worth based on our accomplishments and recognition. Is there anything more difficult to surrender than the desire to be liked or placed on a pedestal for being ‘the best’? Giving requires no acceptance. It measures no worth.
To trade, we need not offer the same sacrifices.
We readily trade our values and behaviors for the affirmation and acceptance of others. Our beliefs are a willing exchange for recognition and adulation.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Unfortunately, we don’t like surrendering. Therefore, we trade a whole lot more than we give. Detaching those strings of control are a major step in our leadership journey. Here are a few ideas to get a little closer to surrendering.
Plenty of successful leaders have invested heavily in the trade system. Many get remarkable results. I’ll always question the true impact one can have as a trader though. Whereas the impact of a giver will never be in question.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.