Recently, I finished reading Seth Godin’s book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? It does a great job articulating a feeling that has been developing within me over the past couple years as it challenges the reader to become great, or a ‘linchpin’, in their given industry through art creation.
I’ll let the book delve into that concept if you choose to read it, but one chapter in particular stood out to me. In the chapter called ‘The Powerful Culture of Gifts’, Godin clearly explains to the reader the right way to give and receive gifts and the true power of gift giving is available only when the giver acts out of a place of genuine love.
Another way of putting it is ‘no strings attached.’ When we give gifts and expect something in return, by nature, we are no longer giving a gift, but are participating in a mere economic transaction. He states:
“You go the extra mile to please a small customer, or build an online forum to teach your customers how to get more out of your products (for no extra cost)… It works even more profoundly on an internal basis. Someone who is not in your department steps in and helps out during a crunch…You brainstorm a new idea with another salesperson. In each case, there’s no reciprocity, no guarantee of repayment. Instead, there’s an ever-enlarging circle, a circle where gifts are valued and passed on.”
I witness the profound impact a culture of giving in the workplace gas on the morale and loyalty of its people. Next week marks my ninth year working with Vector Marketing and one of the reasons that I have chosen to stay for this long is because of the selfless attitudes of my co-workers, managers, factory workers and even upper management.
When people have each others’ backs on projects and freely share ideas without caring who gets credit for them, a mutual respect and bond develops that is practically impossible to break. It creates a mindset in the people to work harder than what they’re paid, act as if they’re owners of the company and to continually produce a better product.
For example, I often rely on our report generating team to assist me in my position. When it could be very easy to complain about the amount of work they already have (and the requests keep coming), I’ve never been met with complaints. As one person in that department told me, “Our jobs wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the field.”
This genuine gratitude and understanding is contagious. I am continuously challenged in my role to extend that same gratitude to others who ask things of me that might add to my to-do list.
When I was a brand new rep nine years ago, a more experienced rep in my office offered to take me field training. (I went with him to watch how he interacted with customers) There was no monetary compensation from the company for this person.
Because he wanted to help me succeed, and he had no reason to want to see me succeed, he gained my respect, my trust and my friendship. Through experiences like this early in my career, I developed a sense of how important my selflessness is not only for the success of others, but also in my personal development.
As Godin concludes this chapter, he mentions that a quid pro quo doesn’t really work when it comes to art creation. It’s impossible to create real art (read: give a wholehearted gift) when conditions are attached. An unconditional gift is the unequivocal act of love.
Vector promotes an atmosphere where individuals give freely and the people have a real love in seeing others become successful inside and outside the business. I cannot imagine a working environment any other way.