Everyone is not worth giving to or doing business with.
I know this statement is not PC, a feel good or easy to hear.
But I would submit there is a lot of falsity to the statements from authors and pundits that want you to spread your seeds of goodwill far and wide. They do not necessarily live with the high cost of such naiveté. They get to sound morally superior and wise, but you are the one that has to live with the reality that giving doesn’t always feel good, and if you keep following bad advice, it can demoralize you.
Think about people within this framework:
- Givers: These are people who love to give of themselves regardless of a return.
- Takers: These are most of the people you run into. They are looking for something for nothing and are happy when they get it.
- Traders: These are rare. Traders show reciprocation. You do something nice for them, they want to do something nice for you.
You run into people every day that fit one of these descriptions. Your address book contains people that can be divided into each of these camps.
Now, if you simply behave like a giver, there can be a lot of joy in the act of giving. You feel like you make a difference.
What happens though when you give to takers? It’s not a good deal. It’s one-sided. You give. They take. If you keep doing this over a long period of time, you will get burned out. And it did not have to be this way. But you get this result because you chose a dead end deal. Burning out serves no one, and your good intentions don’t find any scale or impact.
It’s important that you own this. You chased a bad deal.
Now if you take all that energy and indiscriminate effort as a giver and learn to trade with traders, you don’t burn out. Life becomes fun. It’s because there’s a compounding effect that will happen when you give and someone else reciprocates value.
The creativity, desire and happiness are all healthy, alive and thriving in your exchanges with someone who is a trader.
And it’s a beautiful thing. You are giving your very best to the people that are worth it.
Now, there are not a lot of traders. If you took your address book and applied a tag or category to the traders in your list by simply asking, “Does this person reciprocate?” you will find a small subset of real friends and traders.
If you have a hard time answering the question, the answer is a “No.” That person is a taker. You have a mental block on seeing people for who they really are.
Now take that list of traders, and give them your disproportionate best. They are worth it. They deserve your very best because they exchange value rather than merely take value.
I would not necessarily spend time trying to change people. It’s not a great use of your energy, and you will get poor results.
But you can change yourself and how you approach relationships and giving. Having 10 traders to whom you give your best will take you much farther in life than giving a thousand takers where you will burn out and find little real reward.
So, who are the traders in your life whom you can give your best to?