Every once in a while we read a book that speaks to us so clearly and directly it’s becomes a game-changer for how we live our lives. For me, Adam Grant’s “Give and Take” is one of those books; and in this post I’ll highlight a simple yet very effective strategy from it that has changed the way I interact with, and add value to the lives of others.
In the book Adam references Adam Rifkin, coyly referred to as “Silicon Valley’s Ultra-connector”, and his quick and easy method for adding value to other people. He writes:
“Adam Rifkin taught me that giving doesn’t require becoming Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi; we can all find ways of adding high value to other’s lives at a low personal cost. This is my single favorite habit that I learned while writing the book.”
Grant continues to document how several times a day Adam takes five minutes to perform simple, selfless favors for others without expectation of reciprocity: Things like introducing like-minded peers, loaning books, forwarding websites or buying strangers a mid-morning latte. This philosophy of generosity has made Rifkin both highly respected and extremely well connected, especially in a field and zip code not known for kindness.
Just how respected and connected is Rifkin? Fortune Magazine listed him as the best networker EVER, noting he has more LinkedIn connections to the most powerful people in the world than anyone else.
So what’s his secret? Grant refers to people like Rifkin as Givers; Givers are people who believe by adding value to others, they also add value for themselves, so this is where they put their focus. By applying what Rifkin coined as “Five Minute Favors”, Givers liberally set out to leave all situations better than they found by offering bite size bits of help and support.
Because they know they are helping other people achieve their goals, offering small favours several times a day (without an expectation of reciprocity) makes Givers happy; and isn’t that what life is about? Being happy? I believe so, and bet you do too.
I’ve compiled a list anyone can use to develop their own “Five-Minute Favor” muscle and start spreading the love around immediately. Because what’s better than changing the world, especially if we can do it five minutes at a time? If you’re game, let’s do this!
- Share knowledge and ideas with someone who needs your expertise
- Help solve a specific problem
- Acknowledge a personal accomplishment with a handwritten note or card
- Pick up litter in a park, or around your neighborhood
- Buy coffee for a stranger at the coffee shop “just because”
- Promote friends, activities and events you believe in on social media
- When store cashiers ask for a charity donation, give it happily
- Endorse friends and colleagues that deserve it
- Eat lunch or dinner with someone you rarely spend time with
- Donate food to the supermarket hamper each week
- Recommend a life-changing book or movie to someone
- Donate unwanted clothes and household items to local charities
- Steer people towards useful websites recommendations
Author Bio: David Knapp-Fisher
As founder of The Inspired Humans Project, David loves sharing inspirational stories. His TEDx talk, “Discipline or Regret, a Father’s Decision” been viewed over 100,000 times, and his first book, “Punch Failure in The Face, Then Buy It a Beer” has 36 five star reviews on amazon.ca.
David lives in Victoria B.C. where he spends most of his time trying (& usually failing) to stump his son with movie trivia, or planning his next big adventure; both while drinking great coffee, of course.