Cultivating a Culture of Generosity

In his best-selling book, Give and Take, Wharton Professor Adam Grant conducted research on a group of people with the goal of discovering why certain people more often ‘give’ and what attributes are associated with people inclined to ‘take.’ His research revealed three different types of people as it relates to giving – Givers, Matchers and Takers. I won’t go into detail defining these three types of people as the labels speak for themselves. But I will encourage you to read the book if you’re interested to know more about this research, how to identify which tribe you belong to, and/or a deeper look into each type of person. You can click this link which will take you to the Give and Take webpage on Amazon.

In a related article, Grant makes a comment on the subject of giving that I would like to address in this blog article. His statement is- “Gratitude is a temporary emotion; generosity is a lasting value.” His statement on gratitude seems limiting making it sound like something not worth striving after. That’s not how I view gratitude and absolutely believe it’s an attitude worth cultivating in my own life. However I don’t think Grant is downplaying gratitude in this statement as much is he’s using gratitude to set the bar even higher for generosity- or what I call ‘a spirit of generosity’ that, indeed, does have lasting value.

When is generosity at its best within a workplace community?

One attribute might be when the workplace community is characterized by virtuous cycles of work that result in stronger client deliverables, more engagements, more clients and an esprit de corps among the community. Sustaining virtuous cycles of work also requires community members organically getting involved in the work of other community members. While most desire this type of workplace community, I think a new name might move us forward in the right direction. A name that captures the culture of generosity within the community- something that feels 21st century with a pinch of technology added on top.

Let’s take this name out for a spin- an Open-Source Community. When we see the term ‘open-source’ we think of technology software. The type of software designed to be given away to those who have appropriate uses. Companies that use open-source software can customize it and even add on to the original code. Don’t you love the idea of open-source software? It’s just so… open!

First, let’s start with what we don’t mean by an open-source community. It doesn’t mean we show up tomorrow at Roam, open our financial books to the public, give all our office supplies or computers away and only work with other people or other company’s business issues/opportunities. Let’s admit that it seems a bit silly, that approach probably wouldn’t be effective, and frankly, it’s too easy in a check-the-box kind of way.

Cultivating a culture of generosity at Roam

A better approach might be to seek out opportunities that test your limits on generosity in the moments and opportunities that come to us every day. A decision to introduce yourself to someone you’ve seen around Roam but don’t know their name; encouraging a fellow citizen of Roam when you sense the need; making an introduction when your gut says good things will come when these two people connect; or helping to solve a problem for fellow Roaman or Roam-based company when you have the skills/experience to add unique value. These are just a few actions that make an open-source (generous) community flourish.

If you want to keep testing your limits on generosity, acting on individual actions will never be easy but to really bring to life a culture of generosity requires something even more difficult and complex. We must discover the potential generous actions we never or rarely see because they’re in some kind of personal blind spot or they are more nuanced than the acts of generosity that show up on our radar more easily. Having the eyes to see these sometimes-hazy opportunities is a worthy ambition and a skill for all of us to strive for as it will benefit the open-source community at Roam, our families, and other communities we invest in. And it will, eventually, benefit you in surprising ways.

Your mission if you choose to accept it

I probably don’t have to tell you that our ‘open-source’ Roam community is the perfect incubator to work out the breadth and depth of generosity. Are you ready to keep testing your limits on generosity?