Give and Take

One of the "Givers" in our community is Joe Barry, shown here on February 9, 2016 accepting the "Citizen of the Year" award from  the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce. Shown on the right is Ken Grooms, outgoing Chamber President.

One of the “Givers” in our community is Joe Barry, shown here on February 9, 2016 accepting the “Citizen of the Year” award from the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce. Shown on the right is Ken Grooms, outgoing Chamber President.

Over the past three and a half years, the job of Village President has kept me so busy that it leaves hardly any spare time to devote to one of my favorite activities–reading. But earlier this year, a fellow volunteer recommended a book that was so intriguing I sacrificed sleep to finish it; in fact this book continues to resonate. Called “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives our Success,” by Adam Grant, it was an enlightening read for anyone in a leadership role such as mine. Using concrete examples, it offered insights into the way we interact with others in the workplace, either as Givers, Takers, or Matchers, and how this can have a profound impact not only on our personal success, but also on the success of our organization.

The examples and ideas in this book have given me much food for thought. The author makes the point that the happiest, most likely to be promoted people, are givers. The individuals who fall into this category make others’ needs a priority. They intuitively help and mentor others, are excellent communicators, and bring out the best in people by recognizing and appreciating their strengths and contributions. As a result, givers are most successful because they garner a network of support over time from others that they’ve helped. However, here’s the catch…givers can also be the least successful people if they allow themselves to be exploited by the takers, those who give strategically.  Givers burn out if they do not see some sort of result from their efforts, some sense of contribution to the greater good. The key, Grant writes, is to engage in “otherish giving,” which ultimately separates successful from unsuccessful givers. Give, but make sure it is to people and things that you care about, where you receive a larger sense of purpose. Give, but not when it comes at the expense of your own health, or personal and work satisfaction. Many of our commitments in life, professional and civic, involve the push and pull of giving and receiving. To be a good citizen, or a good worker, we often extend ourselves to help or serve others with the hopes that down the road we will all be better off for it. It’s not motivated by a selfish quest for success; the givers among us have simply evolved to be really good at cooperation and empathy. A favorite passage:  “This is what I find most magnetic about successful givers: they get to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them. Whereas success is zero-sum in a group of takers, in groups of givers, it may be true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

It is exciting to ponder what new opportunities might be waiting for me as I round the corner into 2017. I hope you share a similar sense of anticipation for the New Year ahead, and that in this holiday season, the spirit of giving brings much happiness into your own life.

Small Plates of the Small Town Mayor

One of the less embarrassing shots... taken in Ronda , Spain

One of the less embarrassing shots… taken in Ronda , Spain

Those of us who are parents know that our children’s attitude towards us changes as they go through the stages of growing up.  As small children, their love for us is unrestrained.  In the elementary years they depend on us, and as middle school approaches we embarrass them.  We are ignored when they reach high school, and suddenly intelligent once college is over and they are living on their own.

Then, they mock us.

I have recently found out that this new blog I’ve started is not my first.  Apparently, one of my children (who shall remain nameless) created a blog some time ago featuring me.  You see, my husband Aaron and I like to travel, and are “foodies” so we eat at some interesting places.  My husband has been known to take pictures of especially memorable dishes, of which I sometimes show up in, and these get emailed to our “foodie” child.  Who has secretly created a blog entitled, “Small Plates of the Small Town Mayor.”   Yes, I know you are intrigued to see this, but I will NOT be providing a link as most of the pictures are, shall we say, not flattering.  I could be annoyed at my husband for forwarding all those photos unbeknownst to me; I could be angry at my children for making fun of me.  Luckily I grew up with two younger brothers who teased me relentlessly so I have a pretty good sense of humor.  And let me just close with this thought…I am in possession of some pretty embarrassing photos of naked babes in the bathtub and awkward middle school fashion statements.  And I now have my own blog.