As educators, we are in the industry of building relationships and developing functioning levels of mentorship. I love being involved in mentorship at all levels – mentor, colleague, and mentee– for many reasons. But one of the main reasons is the learning relationships that develop surrounding from these mentoring levels. Any moment I am able to share, discover, or learn something new with someone else is life giving and exciting. Sharing is at the core of why I am an educator. So why would I hold anything back? Giving time, energy, and resources is an integral piece for me to develop new relationships and it is a part of my everyday life that reaches far beyond my career as an educator.
Give and Take
As my summer read, I was recommended to read the book “Give and Take” by Adam Grant by a good friend of mine, Jamie Hubick. It has been the best read for me since Malcolm Gladwell‘s or Seth Godin’s written work, and I strongly recommend it. Grant’s book is about a new approach to success which particularly focusses on the impact of how we interact with others. Many of his ideas have reinforced how I think about relationship building and colleague interaction. Grant’s premise, which is based on compelling true stories, his own research, and others research, is that there are three kinds of people in the world: givers, takers, and matchers. Most interestingly, he shows through stories and research that it is the givers who are the least successful and who are also the most successful. Matchers and takers often end up in the middle. To keep this blog post short, I will leave the term ‘successful’ for now including the meaning, description, and definition. As an example, Grant tells a story of a student who is a giver and helps all his classmates study for a test at the sacrifice of his own knowledge gain. In another example, Grant tells the story of a writer who continually gives credit, elevates, and encourages everyone around him, remains anonymous and continues to be a driving force for the successful cartoon series The Simpsons.
Teachers interact with students and colleagues in an extension of their identity, motivations, insecurities, and perceptions. Grant proposes that is it how you frame your interactions that is more important than your talent, hard work, passion, and luck. As he writes in his book:
“Every time we interact with a another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or continue value without worrying about what we receive in return.”
This statement can identify the difference in either being a giver, taker, or matcher as a measure and insight into the motivation of the person in the interaction. I believe in being a giver. I try to continually offer help and support, resources and workshops, expertise and credit to the people around me. As an educator, I want to be a giver because it seems that the more I share, the more I learn. And I don’t see this slowing down.
So what does it look like to start off right? Be a giver. But it is much more complex than just ‘being a giver’. It all depends on what, when, how and with who to share. And in the balance, also provide space to be a listener. In order to usefully share with colleagues, mentors, and mentees, take the time to listen, collect insight, and ask a lot of questions. Listening provides space for needs to be identified. And it is in the identification of needs where the problem solving can begis. But at this point, with my new job, I still need to ask where to park my truck. In many ways, I have a long way to go.