Growth Strategy: Give Away Your Advantages
Image: The River. To protect yourself or to save the resource, you dam it up. Soon, however, the waters become dank and pestilent…nothing travels on them, all commerce stops. Destroy the dam. When water flows and circulates, it generates abundance, wealth and power in ever larger circles. — Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power
I want to question the tendency to think that we need to hold on to our skills and resources as some sort of competitive advantage in the world. Particularly regarding the things that make us money, it feels easy to assume that our value comes in proportion to the things that we can uniquely do. I think this is a limiting mindset because it causes us to view ourselves as lonely travelers who must carry all our food and water on our back in order to survive. That causes others to view themselves similarly, and in turn we live in a world based on selfish transactions. I think that we need to value ourselves for what we are and the ideas that we can generate, and give away what we have from a place of trust in the eventual return of what we need to survive and grow.
With this mindset, we are no longer limited to what we can carry, but instead to what everyone else around us can carry. By giving away our skills, resources, and connections to others we sacrifice the first-order benefit to ourselves in order to stimulate the second-order gain by trusting that those around us will return the favor. We already know what we think our advantages are, but we can never predict the richness of resources that can be provided to us by others when we emanate this mindset. This means that we gain access to growth opportunities constantly that make our small collection of coveted advantages seem small by comparison.
You give because you’re grateful. You give because you genuinely want to help other people. You give because you want to grow. And you grow, because you want to give more. As the saying goes, ‘don’t work to make money…make money so you can do more and better work. — Benjamin Hardy
If I give away the instructions for how to create something, some people may take it and give nothing back, but others may now see me as someone who has the ability to continuously generate new ideas and systems. Those who take from me selfishly may have taken some of the water from the river, but others recognize that they value the source. And if I trust myself to remain that source, I am not bothered by a diversion of some of what I generate because I know I can generate more. Additionally, when I generate and spread my ideas around, I gain access to more and more people in a way that shifts the logic of what I can receive. Imagine that I give away something to others and each person gains 99% of the benefit while returning 1% back to me in the form of compensation or new ideas and connections. Each person may have gained 99% for themselves, but I am not limited by the number of 1%’s I can receive in return; they continue adding up until I far surpass my original 100%.
When those around me trust that resources shared with me don’t enter a fortress of protected advantages, they become open to sharing more with me and spreading my reputation to others who do the same. I become trusted as a reliable source of compassionate assistance, and in return my world becomes a place where I don’t need to carry anything on my back in order to survive. This whole process is self-reinforcing; the less I need to carry the more confident I become in myself and my own mind, and the more I tend to share anything valuable that I receive with others. Become the river that flows and circulates, not one that dams up whatever comes your way.