In Western culture, many people define success narrowly as money and power. In her uplifting book Thrive, Arianna Huffington argues that this leaves us sitting on a two-legged stool, which will tip over if we don’t add a third leg. She makes a passionate case, supported by science, for expanding our definition of what it means to succeed. One of her new metrics is giving: a truly rewarding life involves contributing to and caring for others.
I love this message. It’s a powerful call for us to become more generous and compassionate. Unfortunately, when people answer this call, they sacrifice their own success. Burning the midnight oil for other people, they fall behind on their personal responsibilities, and burn out. Reaching down to help people climb up the ladder, they get stepped on—and sometimes squashed.
After studying these dynamics for the past decade, it turns out that there’s hope. In Give and Take, I discovered that although many people give at their own expense, there’s a group of people who are productively generous. How do they do give without compromising their well-being and falling short on traditional measures of success? They reject three common beliefs about giving. As leaders, it’s part of our job to debunk these misconceptions.
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