We’ve been told since we were children, “It’s better to give than to receive.” However, how much can we possibly give when we are faced with such challenging economic times? We all know the situation with today’s economy. In fact, we are constantly bombarded by the situation whenever we turn on the television, pick up a newspaper or log on to the Internet…or balance our books.
Emotions are contagious. Recent studies have proven that simply engaging in affectively positive behaviors with customers such as greeting, smiling and eye contact was found to correlate with customers’ positive moods, which was then related to the amount of time the customers spent in the store and their reported willingness to come and shop there again. In these studies, what was each one of these employees doing? They were giving service-good, positive service-service with a smile. At some defining moment, they were taking the focus of life off from themselves and giving in one way or another to someone else, and that is what I am talking about.
A few years ago, a friend referred a book to me called The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. This book changed the way I look at myself and my attitude and allowed me to look at a much bigger picture, particularly with respect to how my attitude affects my performance and the performance of others around me. The Go-Giver is a story about Joe, a man who is young and ambitious, a real “go-getter.” Joe finds himself faced with the inability to land a large account he had been working so hard for, thereby resulting in another disappointing quarter. He seeks advice from a legendary consultant referred to by followers as the “Chairman.” Over the course of five days the consultant, along with five other individuals, shows Joe the manifestation that can come from being a “go-giver” verses being a “go-getter.” They accomplish this by sharing with him what they refer to as “The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success.”
The first law introduced to Joe is the Law of Value. With the Law of Value, your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. Seek to go beyond the norm and exceed customer expectations. Taking care of someone else’s needs means helping another human being! Whatever it is you do, do it with a spirit of service. Take time to smile, say something nice, pay a compliment. Take time, give and do it with passion. Start journaling what you did each day and discover what comes back to you. Turn negatives into positives and do it with a servant’s heart.
The second law that Joe was introduced to was the Law of Compensation. Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you and your employees serve them. In other words, your compensation is directly proportional to how many lives you touch. If success is what you are looking for, find a way to serve more people. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.” Each one of us can be successful because we all have the capacity to give.
Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. This is known as the Law of Influence. It is important to develop a network; however, think beyond the obvious. Who are the people that know you, like you and trust you…your “personal walking ambassadors?” In order to develop this kind of network, you need to think in terms of solutions where you will both come out ahead.
While service is one principle, another is to communicate and collaborate. I used to tell people who were kicking around the idea of starting a business, to figure out what it was that they were passionate about and go for it. If the secret to success is to be a giver, then we must learn what it is that our communities need and become passionate about that. And that is called “service.” Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself, which leads me to the Law of Authenticity. You are your most important commodity. Reaching any goal you set takes people skills-nearly 90 percent people skills, and the core foundation of all people skills is who you are. It starts with you. To have people skills you have to be who you are-not who someone else thinks you should be and not someone else you may want to be but are not-just be you. This is called authenticity. Of all the laws, this can be the most difficult merely because it involves time for honest and sometimes painful self-reflection. Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment and the most valuable gift you have to offer, whereas your fictional self is who you are when you have on a social mask in order to please everyone else.
On the fifth and final day of The Go-Giver, Joe learns about the Law of Receptivity. The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. We’ve been raised with the notion that it is better to give than to receive, and in a sense, that may be the message you are getting from this article. However, it is crazy to think that we should only be giving without ever receiving. Remember that another’s act of giving is our receiving and vice versa. As much as you give, you must be willing to receive that much.
So how are you measuring your success? Your success should not be based on what you do or what you accomplished; rather, your success should be based on who you are and what attitude you have chosen along the way.
A former business owner herself and graduate of the Urban Hope Entrepreneur program out of Green Bay, Michelle Madl is currently the business development coordinator for Nicolet Area Technical College, where she assists and coaches new and existing entrepreneurs and small business owners with business plan development, provides professional development workshops throughout the area and coordinates and teaches Nicolet College’s eSeed Entrepreneur Program. She holds a baccalaureate degree from Mount Mary College in behavioral science and a master’s in management and organizational behavior from Silver Lake College. Madl is also the current president of the Northwoods Entrepreneurs Club and Northwoods Women in Business, and sits on the state advisory board for the Small Business Development Centers. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (715) 365-4492.