Albert Einstein has always been one of my favorite historical figures. He was not only an amazing genius, but he was also hugely creative. He left a book full of memorable quotes including one of my favorites. “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
I’ve always had a drive to succeed – really since I was a kid. My best friend and I hatched many “business ideas” as we were growing up. We used to talk about making it big and being rich one day. We planned to become millionaires by the year 2000 (that was a big deal back then).
Our first true business venture was selling martial arts supplies including uniforms and training equipment. We ordered our stock from a mail order catalog that sold items for a quarter of the cost of the local martial arts schools. Our products sold at half of the local vendors’ prices and made a fair amount of money during that time. We were hooked on succeeding in business.
People are taught from an early age to strive for success in sports, in school, and business . . . in everything we do. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with striving for success, but sometimes we get so focused on the destination that we forget about the journey and the people who are impacted by our actions.
In our fast paced lifestyle, it’s easy to get lost in the pursuit of success. Sometimes our goals are even more materialistic than we’d like to admit. We strive for more money, more prestigious job, better car, bigger house. Unfortunately, success can be fleeting – economic downturns or loss of a job can completely disrupt your success.
Value, on the other hand, is more sustainable. I’m not talking about monetary value, but rather creating value and adding value to others. Someone who is valuable remains valuable even when things change. In fact, being valuable to others (people or organizations) can lead you to better opportunities down the road.
Givers vs Takers: Becoming a man of value
In his book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, Adam Grant states that today, success is increasingly dependent on our interactions with others. He introduces three types of behavior that people demonstrate in interactions with others – takers, matchers, and givers.
Takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.
In Grant’s research, he found that givers were generally more successful, had more life satisfaction, and were considered more valuable than their peers who were takers or matchers. This is how we become men of value . . . by finding ways to help others solve problems and become successful.
Which type of person are you? When you interact with others, do you provide a net gain or net loss?