No one has ever become poor by giving – Anne Frank
Humans are hard-wired for survival. There was a time when our ancestors fought elements, animals, and each other just to see another day. They were driven by instincts. Today, survival is an entirely different beast. We strive to do well at work so we can climb the ladder and have a nice paycheck – the 21stcentury’s form of survival. We work hard at trying to create an image of what the world sees as status quo and cool so we can maintain social groups and standing to fill another basic human need –acceptance. It’s no wonder, then, that many people approach the day to day with a “what’s in it for me” attitude.
We truly are egocentric when it comes to surviving. How many times a day do you say or think, “I need,” or “I want?” How often do we consider our own needs first or make decisions based on what is best for us? I do this. We all do this. It’s ingrained.
It’s super trendy in the business world to talk about or emphasize “value in the marketplace.” Provide value to your network. Add massive value to your business. Don’t just deliver services, add value. I get it, everyone wants the sale and everyone is looking out for what’s in it for them. I sell too. And I want all the above – to provide value, to add value to my business, to deliver more than just a product. Oh, and to survive.
But also, I want more than that. I want to pay my bills and put food on the table of course. But I want, I NEED, to enjoy doing it. I want to be happy doing it. I want to make other people happy doing it! And guess what is proven to enrich our life and create more happiness? Investing in others … and you got it, providing value.
So how do we accomplish this? Not just in business, but in life? First you need to understand that every relationship is an exchange. Value flows back and forth between people in a healthy relationship, personal or otherwise. Listening, constructive feedback, respect, consideration, etc. are all wrapped in this flow. And this needs to be a two-way street because giving value does not mean becoming a doormat. But we can give more than we receive without the expectation that we are owed something.
In a business relationship, I may add value simply by being a source of good information. Be useful. Maybe you have a skillset others don’t, share it. Be conversational and interested in people. Connecting with people on a personal level even when it’s not required brings value and makes people FEEL valued which is the ultimate goal. Be a bridge. Help bring people together. Maybe you can connect someone to another person that would be useful in their ventures. The key here, add this value without expecting anything in return.
In your personal relationships, giving value can be as simple as giving your time. This might come in the form of attention, listening, or just being with the other person. Maybe value comes in the form of compliments or helping your loved one build their confidence. It could come in vulnerability and humility – saying you are sorry, or admitting you don’t have all the answers. Offering empathy is another way to assert value. Showing understanding and really checking in with someone’s emotions is one of the most valuable things we can give.
In giving value and assuming nothing in return, you will find your life has a purpose that you can’t create through expectations and ego. When we live a purposeful life, we foster happiness that doesn’t come with money and things. And the funny thing is, the more we give, the more we receive. You may not see this unfold immediately, but as you contribute more, opportunities will present themselves like never before. You will find yourself in a cycle of giving and receiving that can only be perpetuated by unconditionally giving value over and over and over again.