Nice Guys Finish Last…And First!
Have you ever participated in volunteer work that left you feeling great? Delivering meals to shut-ins and those less fortunate left me feeling great recently. It also left me with a feeling of appreciation for what I have in life. Research backs up the warm fuzzy feeling you can get from giving to others. Michael Steger, Ph.D., conducted a study that concluded that helping others makes you feel happier. Another study, by psychologist Patricia Frazier at the University of Minnesota, concluded that when an individual’s sense of meaning is threatened, that sense of meaning can be restored by acts of generosity. And still another study, this one led by Wilhelm Hofmann, Ph.D., found that people enjoy a lasting sense of purpose when they do what they think is right. In other words, people lead a more meaning filled life when taking daily moral actions. This reinforces the express that “givers gain.”
There is another expression, “nice guys finish last.” That is exactly what Adam Grant, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School found. Grant’s research found givers bunched at the bottom of the success ladder. A givers’ trusting nature and willingness to sacrifice leaves them vulnerable to exploitation. What you may find surprising is that Grant also found givers bunched at the top of the success ladder. Admiration and loyalty can be won with a reputation of unselfishness. This creates long-term relationships that enable givers to reap tremendous rewards. A key element of givers at the top of the success ladder is their ability to know how others perceive them. Sharing credit is one thing, making sure others know you are sharing credit makes a difference.
Effective leaders understand the concept that givers gain. The most effective leaders practice the concept that givers gain.
Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers—Not Really!
By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.
Imagine that you are 8 years old and you find a $20 bill on the ground. What would you do? I know what I would have done. With that much money I would have made a triple play on the town square in the little town I grew up in: 1) The Dime Store (Ben Franklin store) for comic books, baseball cards and candy, 2) Western Auto for fishing gear, and 3) the Dairy Queen for a treat! Not so for 8 year old Miles Eckert.
Miles found a $20 bill in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant while he and his family were headed in for dinner. When they entered the restaurant, he saw a man dressed in a military uniform. He quickly wrote the following on the $20 bill: “Dear Soldier, My Dad was a soldier. He’s in heaven now. I found this $20 bill in the lot when we got here. We like to pay if forward in my family. It’s your lucky day! Thanks for your service.” He handed the $20 bill to the soldier. Myles said it made him feel good.
Pretty soon, the story went viral on Facebook, resulting in an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, a CBS News story and a free trip to Legoland. Lt. Col. Frank Daily, the recipient of Myles altruistic act, received a free trip to Hawaii for he and his wife. The reaction was so strong with so many offers of gifts and cash, Myles and his Mom created Snowball Express (www.snowballexpress.org), an organization that provides free vacations for children of military parents who lost their lives in the line of duty. Jeremy Baumhower was so moved by the story that he initiated a crowdfunding campaign that raised $10,000 for Snowball Express. James Dondero’s company, Highland Capital Management, issued a $1 million challenge grant. According to their website, Snowball Express raised nearly $1.5 million in 2012 for their cause.
This true life example of a small good deed with gargantuan results is what leadership is all about.
Myles Eckert is a true leader. Like Myles, true leaders give first.
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