Generativity: The Gift of Giving!

Dr. Steven Berglas is my good friend and one of the foremost authorities on career guidance. Steve recently published a new book, Stay Hungry and Kick Burnout in the Butt. In the book, he talks about the pursuit of wealth and happiness. I love his take on this idea and am happy to share it with you! Following is a brief excerpt from our interview.

Marshall: Steve, one of the things I love about your new book is you talk about wealth and how there’s nothing wrong with that pursuit with a caveat. That if you just pursue wealth and expect it is going to bring you happiness, it probably isn’t going to work out for you.

If you look at most research studies on this, for instance studies on people who win the lottery, for most people wealth does not increase their happiness.

Share some of your thoughts on the importance of being generous and other things besides just the pursuit of wealth.

Steve: Well, being generous, or what Erik Erikson, the brilliant psychologist called generativity, really is the key to happiness. If you look at every individual who was unbelievably, unfettered happy and enjoyed life, they were generous to a fault. In my book, I use Ben Franklin as the prototype. He never took out patents on his inventions, because what he said is we should share our wealth with others.

Marshall: I love that.

Steve: And, there’s this guy I know named Marshall Goldsmith and he does it all the time.He has this enterprise called the 100 Coaches. He set it up, he funded it, and he doesn’t get a dime from it. All he does is help other coaches and help people understand the coaching process. That’s the key to happiness in life.

Marshall: It’s fascinating you mention that. Number one, thank you. And number two, I want to talk about what I’ve learned from the 100 Coaches project. This is a legacy project for me. And it started as me telling everyone that I am going to give away everything I know to 100 people, teach them all I know for free, and in return when they get old, they do the same thing.

On one level I thought that this would be nice for them. The thing I did not realize is, the big winner in the project is not them. The big winner in the project is me. And the real gift I’m giving them, which they don’t understand yet, is that one day when they get old, they do the same thing. And they’ll get the gift themselves.

That’s the real blessing. The real blessing is giving it away. The real blessing is feeling like I’m helping others. And that’s something, as you said, there’s not enough money to buy that. You can’t buy it. It’s much, much deeper.

So, number one, thank you very much. Number two, I love your thoughts, and I agree. Thank you!

Steve: Thank you, Marshall.

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