Help Yourself by Helping Others

Helping others can help you get ahead.

While some creative workers work in teams and in larger companies, lots of artistic folks find themselves working solo. The burden of having to do everything yourself can be a heavy one. But getting help isn’t the only way to help yourself: giving help can also, well, help.

Check out this article from The New York Times (brought to our attention courtesy of Fast Company’s Co.Design) about some unexpected benefits of helping others.

Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?

For Grant, helping is not the enemy of productivity, a time-sapping diversion from the actual work at hand; it is the mother lode, the motivator that spurs increased productivity and creativity. In some sense, he has built a career in professional motivation by trying to unpack the puzzle of his own success. He has always helped; he has always been productive. How, he has wondered for most of his professional life, does the interplay of those two factors work for everyone else?

Organizational psychology has long concerned itself with how to design work so that people will enjoy it and want to keep doing it. Traditionally the thinking has been that employers should appeal to workers’ more obvious forms of self-interest: financial incentives, yes, but also work that is inherently interesting or offers the possibility for career advancement. Grant’s research, which has generated broad interest in the study of relationships at work and will be published for the first time for a popular audience in his new book, “Give and Take,” starts with a premise that turns the thinking behind those theories on its head. The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.

Read the rest at The New York Times.

Photo by Christopher Sessums.

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