PSMI Week 4 Assignment
This week we focused on the practice of generosity. Quick quiz: if I tell you that you should approach your work with a spirit of generosity because it’s good for you and the people around you; and so you offer your time, resources, etc. to some folks; have you been generous? It’s complicated, right? Our coaches really know how to put the “intensive” into the Practical Self-Management Intensive.
We came at the practice of generosity from several angles. One was the Giver-Taker-Matcher model offered by Adam Grant. My result is shown below. Although I agree with my colleague Ali Randel who said she wanted to answer most of the questions in the assessment in a way that wasn’t offered among the three choices.
We practiced asking for help, and offering help, as an exercise in strengthening our generosity muscle. Samantha Slade has created a useful typology that can be used to bring more clarity to an ask (or offer) for help. I have been guilty at times of jumping to conclusions about what others may be asking for, such as being too eager to solve when the ask is really to provide attention or support. I’m optimistic that this list will help me avoid that mistake in the future.
We explored the concept of “weak ties” in our social networks, advanced by Jacob Morgan in this video (and originated all the way back in 1973 by the sociologist Mark Granovetter). In a nutshell, this is about paying attention to those contacts whose own networks are largely separate from our own. Practicing generosity with these so-called weak ties can open up whole new fields of possibilities, by helping us jump outside the echo chamber of our already heavily-networked circle of colleagues.
Closely related to the weak-ties concept, we learned about Working Out Loud, an idea that has grown to be a movement with practitioners in many large organizations across 31 countries. Generosity is one of five elements of the WOL process, tapping into our natural inclination to practice reciprocal altruism.
We enjoyed a live video interview with Helen Sanderson, whose generosity was evident and inspiring, as she spent more than 30 minutes walking us through her own experience with Working Out Loud and other forms of munificence. Despite her remarkable expertise and achievements, Helen radiates humility, open-mindedness and kindness.
And then, in case I needed more evidence of the power of generosity, this happened. I had coffee this week with the CEO of an energy industry company. He mentioned a book he’s enjoying, so I wrote it down to order and read when time permits. The very next day, the book showed up on my doorstep with a note: “Hey Pete, great to hear your thoughts on org structure and changing the nature of business. Hope you enjoy the book.” He did this with no expectations, no quid pro quo. Generosity — maybe it’s not so complicated after all.