An Expert's Surprising Secret To Getting Ahead At Work

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Adam Grant, the subject of The New York Times magazine's latest in-depth profile, is a leader in his field of organizational psychology. He's dedicated his life to exploring what works at work — and what doesn't; what makes for happy, dedicated employees instead of 9-to-5 procrastinators. And, while as a person he is completely fascinating, what's even more interesting is his groundbreaking theory of the singular key to advancement and fulfillment in the workplace.
It's kindness. Generosity. Not cut-throat ambition, not 80-hour work weeks (though, that comes with the territory), not even focusing on the task at hand. In fact, it's the opposite of that. Using both his own anecdotes and careful studies, Grant argues that helping others is the real secret to success. By doing so, he argues, you increase your sense of self-worth and understand your job as more than just a cog in a corporate machine; you see the impact your work has on others and therefore are more invested. We won't go too in-depth here, because you should really read the piece in full, but, as Susan Dominus puts it, this is essentially the most in-depth proof for the old saying that nice guys finish first.
Grant basically divides people into three categories: Givers, matchers, takers. He explains that givers, when they're doing it right, come out on top because they're giving not only in the best interests of others but also out of their own self-interest. And they surround themselves with others who want to give and return the favor. To a cynic, his answers to common workplace melancholia might sound naively sunny and out-of-touch, but we think there's something to be said for selflessness as a form of self-preservation (and social betterment, by extension). Check out the article and tell us — can you apply this in your everyday life? Does it even make sense for a real workplace? (The New York Times)
Photo: Courtesy of The New York Times.
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