Adam Grant, author of the book Give and Take, focuses on the simplicity of the act of giving.  He states that there are three types of people: givers, takers, and matchers:

  • The Givers: The best givers give in ways that are thoughtful and courteous and they aren’t worried about receiving something in return from whoever they’re giving to.  When they give, they believe karma will come back around for them, through other means.
  • The Matchers: Matchers give and expect immediate reciprocity.  They want to see results shortly after their time of giving. 
  • The Takers: This name is very telling of these types of people.  Consider the people that take and take and take until they’re satisfied—that’s all you need to know about a taker.

Though it’s hard to admit, I truly wanted to see myself as a giver, when in reality I was more of a matcher.  Based on the amount I thought I gave, I couldn’t imagine not being a giver. But when I looked closer into the descriptions in Adam’s book, my actions displayed those of a matcher.  The best givers can recognize a taker, and they don’t let themselves be worn-out.  

They believe that when they give, it’ll be rewarded to them in other means.  They give at point “A,” and rather than expecting to receive from source “A” they have confidence it will return to them through sources “X,” “Y,” or “Z.”

Unfortunately, those qualifications, per say, didn’t fit my situation. I could potentially blame this on anything that has made me who I am, but no matter what I placed the blame on the outcome was simple—I was not living my life as a giver.  As a psychologist, this was an extremely difficult realization.  

I decided to perform an experiment, that I have now been running for two years.  I started giving with the intent of servicing someone’s needs, yet I was careful to not over-give to any takers.  I focused on the value of the gift, rather than the compensation. So, I began giving everywhere I saw a need.

Surprisingly, becoming this type of giving was oddly difficult.  I thought of myself as a giver, however this type of giving awakened me to the uncomfortable thought that my previous means of giving was tied to an expectation of some sort.  I have always been someone that gives, but I had yet to experience giving associated with this karmic sense of receiving. I have donated clothing, my time, and money believing that those gifts made me a giver.  Now, what I have learned is that there is a difference between giving something because you have it in abundance and giving because you are sharing.

I started my new life as a giver by doing the following:

  1. I offered no-cost consultation to mental health facilities and agencies. These no-cost consultations were not offered in the spirit of if-I-give-you-this-I will-get-work-from you, instead they were offered in the spirit of giving people something that they needed.  By offering these services to those in need, my time and energy were given.
  2. I wrote content to help out publications in need. I am a writer.  I love to write content that can help those who read it. I decided to offer my services as a writer for publications that needed assistance. Sure, I was credited as the author, but I wasn’t writing because I needed exposure.  I wrote to be sure these publications had what they needed because I knew I could be of service to them.
  3. I eliminated the fees for my services and provided psychotherapy to those in need for no charge.  
  4. I offered classes on issues I’m passionate and knowledgeable about, and I also created a web-based training program for students at a university.

Hear me out—I didn’t become Mother Teresa overnight.  This process has taken time and effort. I now work to give and not expect reciprocation. 

I saw this new way of giving as easier, and at the same time more difficult.  It was easy because I started agreeing to take part in opportunities that had been present for years.  It was also difficult because as much as I wanted to invest in this experiment, I had trouble finding the time in my already busy schedule to do so.  Because of that, my first few tries at this type of giving was more difficult. It made me question my attitude toward giving. Something along the line of, “This giving thing better work.”  To my surprise, this limiting attitude disappeared once I was involved in a project. Once I was in, I was all in

There were many hidden delights I found in this type of giving.  I felt good about giving and I even noticed a shift in how I showed up.  Helping out in this new way became a feeling I treasured.

Once I started giving, new opportunities started arising—though not overnight.  But once it started happening, the steady inflow of new opportunities I received were like nothing I had ever experienced.  It was like the more I gave, the more that came back to me. Opportunities I’d never even thought about emerged in my inbox, office, and voicemail.

Through this experiment, I’ve experienced a different way of being in the world. This experiment was such a success. Become a giver. Give because others need; not because you’re hopeful to receive.