Marc Lore, an entrepreneur and co-founder, Chief Executive Officer, and chairman of Jet.com, an e-commerce startup meant to challenge Amazon, recently wrote this:
At 22, I evaluated my first job based on what I could get out of it. But I have since learned that you can achieve much greater success if you focus on what you can give. Ultimately, I have realized that success is not a measure of your salary, title, or degree, but the impact you have on others and the collective happiness of the people you touch.
I've been lucky to have that attitude throughout my whole career. When I went to graduate school in religious studies and philosophy, it never even occurred to me to ask anyone how much careers in those fields paid. And it's a good thing I didn't! When I hit the job market with a double PhD from Yale in 1980, starting salaries for professors were ridiculously small. My children wore hand-me-down clothes from other professors' kids, who had done the same thing. We were in it to give, not to get. I wanted to tackle the big questions, and come up with new insights I could benefit from myself, and then give to other people. I learned in those years the power of giving.
Now, we're all learning it, through new research, as well as in our broader cultural experiences. In the book Give and Take, Wharton professor Adam Grant does a great job of showing how givers can prosper exceptionally well in the long run and actually become the most satisfied receivers of all.
In everything we approach, we should ask what we can give, first and foremost. Then, we may be amazed at what we can get, as a result. It's not the motivation, but the wonderful side effect, that those who give most prosper most deeply.