12 Things NOT TO DO...
Do NOT focus on acquiring... Focus On GIVING.
Every year around January 1, people make a new list of things they want to accomplish over the next 12 months. Some do it out of tradition ie: the “New Years Resolution”. Others are more disciplined planners, and create a list of practical personal and/or career goals to accomplish each year. On its surface, there is nothing wrong with this practice. But have you ever noticed that New Year Resolutions never seem to stick? So in our quest to find success, happiness, and balance, we will look at the motivation behind our planning. You may be surprised what you discover about yourself. Let’s take a look together.
In Issue 1 of this series we explored creating a real Plan. The purpose of this was to explain
the “how” of creating a successful method to reach ones desired goals. In issue 2, we looked at studying ones “Wheelhouse” or area of expertise. Again the “how” was explored. Specifically the how does one become successful at great levels and maintain balance in order to attain happiness as well as success. In this issue we will discuss the heart of the “why”. It is essential to fully understand this principal in order to form a foundational basis for the happiness component of success.
The Why (Success & Happiness)
So I guess at this stage in the conversation it is probably important that we discuss the difference between Success and Happiness. Most people, myself included, begin our lives learning from popular culture that success is about achieving money and position, and that those two things above all, will bring you happiness. That statement could not be farther from the truth. There are a million analogies I could use to differentiate success and happiness, but instead I have decided to give you a few simple statements, backed up by a few real-life, practice examples.
What is Success?
Professional Success is finding out who you are, determining what things give you fulfillment, and creating a situation that allows you to pursue those things as your career.
Personal Success is very similar. It is knowing who you are, determining what personal things give you fulfillment, and creating a life situation where you can pursue, grow, and live those things.
What is Happiness?
There is a scene in the original Harry Potter film, where Harry finds a magic mirror called The Mirror or Erised. When he looks in the mirror he sees his parents on either side of him. (His parents had died tragically when he was a baby). When his friend Ron looked in it, he saw himself as a popular star athlete. When Harry was discovered with the mirror by Professor Dumbledore, the professor said, “I assume by now you know what the mirror does. It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. So to someone who is truly happy, they would only see their own reflection.”
I love this story because it is so telling of happiness in real life.
A truly happy person would wish for nothing. Nothing but for others to find that same happiness. Happiness is not found in a thing, or a house/car/material possession. It is not found in a bank balance. It is not even found in a perfect body, perfect health, or a dream relationship. Happiness is something each of us must find in ourselves. My happiness is certain to be different from yours. In general, what makes us happy is fulfillment. That means “feeling” fulfilled in the work that we do, in the activities we participate in, in the relationships we keep, and in the accomplishments we have throughout life. This means you can be a happy and content trash collector, and you could be a very unhappy multi-millionaire CEO. The trick is in the fulfillment. Knowing what makes your heart full and creating situations around that. Now, I can not tell you the specific details that will fill your heart. That is a secret that only you can unlock inside yourself. However I can tell you how to find it. The answer is in one word.
That’s right, giving. I have found that if you adopt a lifestyle, or life philosophy of giving, that you will naturally find your own areas of fulfillment. Look, we all want to “acquire” in life. We all want financial stability, health, good relationships, fun, entertainment, etc.. There is nothing wrong with wanting those things. It’s how we get them that really matters.
There are 2 ways to “acquire” in life, Taking and Giving.
So what is the difference? The answer to this is, I believe, the most important life lesson you will ever learn, and the most valuable piece of knowledge that I believe I possess.
Here it is. When you take, you acquire for yourself. This fills the void of need we all have, in a very specific way. It tends to be very powerful up front. Very instantly fulfilling, very fun, very enjoyable. Then after a time, while the acquisition still exists (new car, big house, fancy clothes, etc..) but while the object remains, the fulfillment these objects provided disappears.
Conversely, when you give (as both a life and business philosophy), as in give time, love, attention, passion to a business idea, a product, a customer, or a relationship, you then receive back “consideration”, or a reward. That reward may be money (as in a career), it may be a position, it may be thanks, it may be love. But here is the magical difference between Taking and Giving. Both end up with you acquiring things. But only one gives joy to BOTH parties.
Giving is the textbook definition of what in business (and in life) is knows as a proper “Value Proposition”. A proper Value Proposition provides “consideration” or value, to both or all parties. An improper VP does NOT provide consideration on both sides.
In business class you will be taught that if you want customers to purchase your product, you will have to set a price that seems fair to them. If your price is $100.00 and they believe your product is worth $100.00 or more, you now have a proper VP. In a relationship, if you provide what the other person needs in a friendship or romantic relationship, and they provide what you need, then you have a proper VP. If one party is not providing what the other needs, then the VP does not add up.
Acquiring, is only about you getting yours. It’s a one-sided Value Proposition. This is done everyday in business through marketing. I used to own part of a marketing company. I can tell you the goal of marketing is to invoke an emotion in a customer, to create a buying decision. Some people approach this like, “How can I make people “think” my product/service is worth what I’m asking?” And clever marketing can accomplish this. It is not until later a customer realizes that they made a bad or unfairly priced purchase. Other marketers, like those at my previous company, use this approach. “How can we show the customer the true value of our product/service?” This difference is everything! Our approach was to create a proper value proposition or a “win/win” scenario, where both parties get what they consider value from the transaction. This is what creates long-term success in business and relationships.
"Giving is the original Value Proposition."
Giving is the original Value Proposition. It is natures way of creating balance and harmony. Acquiring is a nasty invention of greedy humans. The crazy thing, is that this all boils down to a choice. Your choice. It is your choice whether to take, or give. It is your choice to offer proper Value Propositions in your work, in your relationships, in your pursuit of your dreams. It’s your choice. No one can force you to choose taking over giving. So take some free advice. Make Giving your top priority in your method of doing all things. Make it your “life philosophy”. Adopt a Giving lifestyle.
How? Simple. A life philosophy or lifestyle, is simply a set of habits you choose to form and discipline yourself to follow. So for example how you start your day. How you answer questions, emails, text, etc...
Try this to start and modify as you go:
Start your day by speaking some affirmations (in the shower, during a workout, while you get dressed, whatever you do in the morning)
I am so grateful to be alive today.
I am so grateful to live in the United States of America.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to give of my gifts and talents to the world today.
I will look for ways to give a smile to others today.
I will look for ways to make others feel good about themselves today.
I will look for ways to provide the best possible service to my customers today.
I will look for ways to be a good co-worker/manager/boss today.
I will look for ways to be a good friend/partner/son/daughter/brother/sister today.
These affirmations are simply a way to get your brian to adopt a type of thinking. “Provide value to others”… If you can make this a life-habit, it will slowly infiltrate all areas of your life.
The more you do it, you will see people, opportunities, experiences open up to you.
You will see successes in business, friendships, and ideas.
Most importantly, since you are creating value to others, while your receiving benefit for yourself, you will being to see that the voids you fill, stay filled. You will see that you truly feel good about yourself. You will find that you can not wait to wake up every morning and get started, because you know that you are a positive part of life. Then that nice car you buy, or the big house, or the clothes, will all feel so much better, because they were purchased by you blessing others, not taking from them.
Do You Add Value?
A good friend of mine articulated value so brilliantly to me in one of our many cocktail meetings. He mentioned a revelation he had about himself, through analyzing past failures and successes. He said he determined that answering the following question was the determining factor in his business success: did he truly add value to the situation or not?
I did not understand at first, but as he explained further I began to understand, and it changed the way I look at value forever!
He had always seen his sales role as one of traditional method. Get to know the client, build relationship from things in common, use their name in conversation, ask about thier family by name, etc... Basically get them to like you so they want to buy from you. And that method does work. However, even when he was selling successfully with this method he was not fulfilled. He did not feel like he was accomplishing his purpose. There was money, but not joy. So he adjusted his approach. He began to first ask himself, "Do I add value to this clients situation?" Wow! What a different outlook. When the answer was yes he found that he felt truly joyful in his work, knowing he was providing a meaningful and necessary function to the client. But here is the more important part. When the answer was no, he told the client this, and happily walked away. This ALSO provided him joy, knowing he was not using clever sales tactics just to get some business. But that he was leaving room for that client to go find the real value they need for their success.
He had stumbled on the jackpot, the golden fleece, the pot of gold secret to creating success, happiness, and balance in both career and personal situations. Just proved true value to a situation, and your needs (monetary and/or emotional) will be willingly provided by the other party. What did that exchange start with? Giving. His giving value.
So I will summarize by saying this. Ask yourself daily, “Am I adding value to this or not. (both business and personal situations) If the answer is yes, then you are giving and they are offering you value as well, so you may have a proper Value Proposition. If the answer is no, then you are simply taking. When you find this to be true, walk away and find the situations you can add value to. Then you will be giving. Learning to give is the beginning of achieving success and happiness.
I hope this discussion has opened your eyes to what I consider the most important life lesson I have ever learned, and the most valuable life information I possess. There are 2 ways to acquire. Taking and Giving. Understanding the difference, and making sure you design your life around Giving is the most important thing you can incorporate into your habits, your plans, and your life design. You will find that through giving, you will acquire far more than you ever can by taking.