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Give and Take by Adam GrantAdam Grant in his recent book Give and Take says we fall into one of three broad categories: givers, matchers, or takers. Takers are those who try to take more than they give. Matchers are those who try to give and take in equal balance and conditionally. Givers are those who give more than they take.

We can all probably name a few people in each category.  Grant explores the question of who comes out on top.  Here’s the counter-intuitive part. If we look at the most successful people – the happiest, the most likely to be promoted, and best thought of – they are generally givers, and if we look at the least successful, they also tend to be givers.  Takers do moderately well, but over time too few want to deal with them. Matchers land somewhere near the middle.

Grant explains why being a giver is such a good strategy for success (e.g., other people appreciate givers, want to help them in return, and speak well of them to others.)  He also explains why under some conditions giving is a failing strategy (e.g., too little time focused on your work, too much effort lost accomplishing the goals of others, and burn out.) 

He points out that few of us are consistent.  Even when we may be givers in our personal lives, we often become matchers or takers at work.  We fear being taken advantage of or missing our one big chance at work.

Grant cites a growing body of research showing that giving – under the right conditions – really is the best overall strategy.  We just need to learn how to do it right.  The good news is that he offers a whole final chapter with lots of good suggestions.

Chip Conley may have said it best: “Being a giver is not good for a hundred-yard dash, but it’s valuable in a marathon.”   Perhaps this is a good time to pause to think about the long run.

  • When was the last time I paused to think long-term?
  • How would my colleagues categorize me … as a Giver, a Matcher, or a Taker?
  • Do I fully understand both the dangers and the rewards of giving more than I take? (Helpful advice can be found in Give and Take)