A service ethos is not only good for the world - it can help drive our own success, and the success of our alternative break programs.
Adam Grant, a professor at Penn’s Wharton School (ivy-covered business school), says that every organization has givers, takers, and matchers.
Givers help others without strings attached. Takers, well, take as much as possible and strive to make contributions that get noticed. Matchers choose the karmic middle road, keeping score of favors given and owed.
The world needs more givers and less takers. And while we assume that our service organizations are filled with folks who are selfless to the bone, that’s not always the case. How we interact at a service site can be very different from how we function as a leader, or work to build an agreement with a community partner.
It’s important to lean toward giving in each of those roles. Givers aren't just nice to have around - they’re often the best performers, the best learners, and do the most to build relationships and boost organizational morale. It turns out that working for the greater cause is the greater motivator.
But givers initially struggle more than takers or matchers. Without a competitive fire, it takes them longer to adjust and get going. And they often get taken advantage of, rooting for the team or cause instead of themselves. They need time to build relationships, settle in, and learn what’s expected of them.
After a while, though, they more than catch up. Giving - paired with good, smart, and efficient work - can and does win.
For those without the giving inclination, the shift toward selflessness will take time and trial. But it’s worth it. And, eventually, it leads to the most success.