When I Help You I Help Myself

When I help you I help myself.

Blazingly clear to me as I devour Adam Grant’s book Give and Take.

Why Helping Others Drives Our Success is the subtitle.

Uhuh. When I help you I help myself.

Adam Grant is a young rockstar professor at the venerable Wharton School of Business. He sees a world divided into takers, matchers, and givers. Grant compellingly shows, a few caveats not withstanding, that givers are the ones who win the game of life.

It’s not a hollow win. It’s a deep, I know-why-I-am-alive kind of win. The win that reminds me how you and I drink from the same well.

Dana, the agent for my new book, has helped me to fashion a superior book proposal.

She asks great questions. She affirms that I can do better. She doesn’t accept OK or will-do.

Dana has helped me raise my game.

By helping me Dana has helped herself. Both of us.

My friend Flash – massage therapist, healer, formerly competitive athlete – is a proud soul. Flash is the ultimate helper. Has helped countless folk to lead more enlightened lives.

Flash is loath to ask for help for himself.

Now wheelchair-bound, it was time. The response to the fundraising drive on his behalf was, of course, instant and resounding. It went to the well.

No matter how hardened, no matter how cynical. We long to help. We long to express love.

We long to help the helper.

Such is the beauty of helping. I help myself by asking for help, and I help the helper.

Be the helper. Allow for help.

Help may come in material form. But we also help when we listen. When we champion another person. When we share a skill. We help when we share ourselves.

Sometimes we help by butting out.

Consider the Love Machine. An example courtesy of Adam Grant. Yes, you read correctly. The Love Machine. It may strike you as hokey, but Grant is an entirely unhokey source.

Linden Lab, a high-tech company, was concerned that due to the nature of its work,  employees were prone to isolate themselves from others and not freely share ideas or resources. The work structure at Linden did not inherently foster a helping mindset. Enter the Love Machine. It enabled employees to send a love message to any colleagues who had gone out of their way to be helpful. Because love messages were visible to everybody, it became desirable to help and receive a love message. Ingenious. The Love Machine rewarded the deep-rooted desires to help and be noticed.

The Love Machine worked. It went to the well.

Help comes in many forms.

Be ingenious. Help freely. Be your own Love Machine.  

Because every time you help me, you help yourself.