I was thinking about the way my Dad does business the other day. He's been a successful executive (and then entrepreneur) for more than 50 years. I realized that I can't remember one time when he did this to get that.
When he volunteered to run the United Way or the local theatre, or when he helped a local church raise money for a new building, he didn't have an ulterior motive. When he negotiated with the UAW to create a different sort of workforce structure for his plant, it wasn't so he could get more. It was so they could get more. Same thing when he helped dozens of people emigrate from the Soviet Union a few decades ago.
It's been a consistent approach, and it sure seems to work. Consistent as in all the time, not just when it's convenient. It works for a factory in Buffalo but it also seems to work for others... for successful marketers all over the world. Now, more than ever, it's easier to give even when it seems like you're not going to get.
Back in December I was writing about how nonprofit networks can build collective value, but noted that one of the difficulties we see in network building is that nonprofits don't always like to share, something that's necessary if a network is going to really be successful.
Unfortunately my own personal experiences in working with nonprofit network building have shown me that nonprofits can be some of the greediest organizations around when it comes to getting something from any situation (a sure sign of scarcity thinking).
What happens is this. . . We arrive at a meeting to discuss collective action, only to spend the next several hours dancing around the "What's In It for Me?" question. Most nonprofits are too polite to actually say it, but it's clear that the reason they're at the table is because they want to know what they will GET from the collaboration, not what they can GIVE. Will they get more money? More people? More influence? If not, then they aren't particularly interested. There doesn't seem to be a belief that what goes around comes around, so maybe we should start giving more if we want to reap something in return. I suspect that this is also what turns off a lot of donors, volunteers and clients.
So if a nonprofit is serious about starting to go down the road toward abundance thinking, it seems that one of the easiest things they could do is start constantly asking "What can we GIVE in this situation?" Going to a meeting to plan for a grant? Ask "What Can We Give?" Working with donors or customers or whoever? "What Can We Give You?" I'd love to see big signs all over the office that said "What Can We Give?" Meetings that started with that mantra. A big billboard somewhere. And even better, the ideas for how to give were taken seriously and carried out. That would be abundance in action.
Seems like it could be a really good place to start.