One of the business books I read in the last year was Bob Berg’s book The Go Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea. The powerful business idea that Berg lays out in his book is summed up in the following quote, “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.” This quote is told to the story’s protagonist, a young business man named Joe, early on by a successful colleague of his. Joe was struggling to reach his quarterly goals, even though he felt as though he was working harder than he ever had, and his senior colleague was giving him advice about how to become more successful. This simple idea, and lessons from a new mentor, help push Joe in a new direction thanks to a new way of thinking about life, relationships, and business.
I enjoyed Berg’s writing because the lessons he explains in his short book about business can truly be expanded to other areas of ones life. Berg’s quote above shows that in business when you focus on providing a great value to others you increase the overall worth of yourself and the products you offer for those you serve. He explains in his book that you are allowed to ask for payment or reward, which can be quite significant, but he explains that when the value you provide is greater than the payment you receive, you become indispensable. Berg in his quote is shifting the idea of setting out to directly build your own self worth and reach success. He shows that one truly becomes successful by thinking of others and looking for ways to provide greater value for those with whom one interacts. As we build the value we provide to others, we are able to ask for more in payment, and the more we serve and the greater the value we create for all, the more we can ask for in return.
This can play out well in relationship because of the shift of focus from, “What can I get out of this?” to “What can I put into this?”. When we focus on a relationship the way many think that businesses focus on customers, we would try to minimize the relationship and our input into the relationship to maximize our effort and efficiency. We would measure ourselves relative to others in a game of mental accounting to make sure we were both playing fair in the effort and sacrifice made for our relationship. But when we think of ourselves in a relationship the way that Berg thinks of a successful business, we are able to change our view and think of how we can put more into the relationship and what more we can do for the other person. We stop our game of mental accounting and in any given situation we think of the other before ourselves. This does not mean that we give up all of our desires to simply give all control to the other person, but it means that we put their happiness as a focus beyond our own, knowing that they will make a grater effort to help us and participate in things we enjoy as well.