The ultimate paradox in life is: in order to receive, you must give. It starts with giving; receiving follows afterwards.
There are many applications to this paradox in life, but it is especially relevant in business and in the workplace.
Unfortunately in business, we often have the order of this paradox wrong. We think first about "receiving" and later about "giving."
I made this mistake when I first started in my own business.
I was initially very focused on receiving by "making the connections in order to get the business." I remember meeting this woman who had all of the right connections within a large corporation that I wanted to do business with. I immediately stepped into telling her all of the reasons I was the right consultant to help deliver on her company's needs.
I asked her to give me the necessary leads in order to make inroads. I walked away feeling hopeful. But, she never delivered the leads.
Why? What went wrong?
I started off with receiving, not giving.
If I had applied the paradox correctly and focused first on giving, I may have been able to open this door and develop this customer into a long term, loyal customer.
Next time I applied my learning and got entirely different results.
Months later I met another woman whose business is in creating public seminars. Her reach into my target market of corporations and the business community is very large. My first thought was: "I want to be hired by her as a speaker so that I can broaden my exposure." This thought was a receiving thought. I quickly caught myself and stopped going down this path since I remembered my past experience. I decided to step forward with a giving idea. I approached her and offered to help her draw more people into her seminar by using my network of contacts. She was thrilled and receptive to my offer.
By applying the paradox correctly, my giving action formed the basis of a business relationship with a long term potential of receiving.
Sounds logical, but so often in business we do the opposite.
In your eagerness to build your business or career in the short term, you may unknowingly start first with "receiving" actions that actually hinder both your short and long term business growth.
I received an e-book from Seth Godin called "What Matters Now." One of the first pages written by Seth is about Generosity (giving), here is what Seth says about it:
"When the economy tanks, it's natural to think of yourself first. You have a family to feed a mortgage to pay. Getting more appears to be the order of business. It turns out that the connected economy doesn't respect this natural instinct. Instead, we're rewarded for being generous. Generous with our time and money but most important without our art. If you make a difference, people will gravitate to you. They want to engage, to interact and to get you more involved. In a digital world, the gift I give you almost always benefits me more than it costs. If you make a difference, you also make a connection. You interact with people who want to be interacted with and you make changes that people respect and yearn for. Art can't happen without someone who seeks to make a difference. This is your art, it's what you do. You touch people or projects and change them for the better. This year, you'll certainly find that the more you give the more you get."
What "receiving" actions are you taking that are hindering you from advancing your career or growing your business? How can you turn these around into "giving" actions?
So if you are finding yourself on the negative side of this economic downturn and are out searching for new customers or a potential employer, don't make the mistake of focusing first on receiving, instead ask yourself how you might assist and give to them. These giving actions will form the foundation of a business relationship that will bear fruit now and in the future.