GRANTED: Why opinions, networking, and living in the moment are overrated
Happy new year. Over the past four years, I’ve had too many conversations like this:
Stranger: That’s not new. When I was a kid my grandmother told me that there were givers and takers.
Me: Did she tell you about matchers? Sure, there are selfish and generous people, but most are in the middle—they try to be fair and trade favors evenly.
Stranger: How many people are givers, matchers, and takers?
After getting over 30,000 people around the world to rate themselves and each other, I finally have an answer. About 56% of people say their default approach to work interactions is matching—compared with 25% givers and 19% takers. Most people choose matching because they think it’s the way to play it safe. It is… when you’re dealing with takers. But the rest of the time, it can rub people the wrong way.
Years ago, I wrote a paper on a new topic and asked an expert colleague for feedback. Three days later, the comments came in. They were excellent and thorough. I was thrilled and grateful, until I read the rest of his note: “Attached is a paper I wrote. You have three days to send me your feedback.”
I would’ve been happy to help him, but it felt so transactional. He didn’t care about me; he was just doing me a favor so he could ask for an equal one back. I wanted to tell him that unless he was the Godfather, he wasn’t entitled to my help. Instead, I wrote a book on the topic. Which I don’t want him to read one day, because then he’ll think I’m obligated to read his.
In lieu of that, I gave a new TED talk on how we can build cultures where givers succeed—and spot takers before it’s too late. You can watch it here, and maybe he will too:
Are You a Giver or a Taker?
Now let's kick off the year with some of my favorite recent articles:
1. Leaders are More Powerful When They're Humble, New Research Shows
The leaders I admire most are the ones who recognize that humility doesn't make us weaker—it makes us stronger.
2. Don't Waste Your Time on Networking Events
I've always found that the best networking happens when people gather for a purpose other than networking.
3. No, You're Not Entitled to Your Opinion
“I’m entitled to my opinion” is a dangerous statement—it lets us cling to beliefs we can't explain or defend.
4. Actually, Let's Not Be in the Moment
I've long been skeptical of mindfulness as a cure for individual and social problems. Much of the good in the world comes from living in the future and the past, not in the present.
5. My President Was Black
Racism runs much deeper and wider in America than I wanted to believe. A must-read.
From My Desk:
6. The New Books to Sharpen Your Mind in 2017
Fiction might be ideal for empathy and kids’ learning—not to mention just plain fun—but our best learning as adults comes from nonfiction. Here are the new releases that have taught me the most.