Series on Meaningfulness at Work – Givers vs Takers

There are three primary interaction styles at work as per Grant’s book Give and Take. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return. Not surprisingly, the majority tend to have matching styles at work. However, this proportion changes if you scan the top of the corporate food chain. It is neither takers nor matchers that make it into this coveted echelon. It is the givers.

It seems these workplace givers have discovered how to mastermind successful careers and find meaningfulness in the process–to proverbially have their cake and eat it too. What secrets do they hold? What they don’t do is drop everything to help others. Below are three practical and deceptively simple strategies they undertake to propel their meaning-laden success.

BECOME A MASTER CRAFTER: GIVE MORE OF YOUR TALENT – Job Crafting is a pioneering method created by Amy Wrzesniewski, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Management; Jane Dutton, a professor at University of Michigan; and Justin Berg, a current doctoral student at Wharton. The tool empowers you to rethink your role. In the end, you emerge with greater clarity on how to retro-fit your job to your unique passions, values, and strengths. The most successful and fulfilled at work are relentless job crafters. They are able to use the raw material afforded in their work to mold more meaning. In doing so, they find ways to give their best selves in service of what others need–a critical meaning-making ingredient.

IGNORE THE WHAT AND HEED THE WHY – Consider one computer manufacturer’s mission statement: “To be the most successful computer company in the world.” That’s great. But it displays a major meaning trap that many of us fall prey to–it’s all about us. What if the mission statement read: “To be the most successful computer company for the world”? Meaning comes when we realize the impact of our work on others. In fact, what distinguishes the most successful givers–versus those who burnout–is not what or how much they give. It is that they know the difference they make on others. People aren’t inspired solely by what they do. People are lit up when they know why what they do matters.

In the relentless grind of our daily work we often forget the positive and enduring impact our work has on others. A study of hospital janitors who cleaned bed pans and mopped up vomit–perhaps the lowest-ranking job in a hospital–saw themselves as part of a team whose goal was to heal people, which suggests that meaning isn’t about the job; rather, it’s about how you view your job. To paraphrase Marcus Aurelius, “Work itself is but what you deem of it.”

REMEMBER THAT OTHER PEOPLE MATTER – Research findings that the most engaged workers report having a best friend at work have become a well-cited statistic for good reason. If you look at experiences of those who report higher meaning at work, it is not what people are doing–but rather who they are with. This is consistent with a set of findings on what distinguishes our best days: days whereby we feel enlivened and truly thriving. These days include at least six hours of social time. In fact, even three hours of social time reduces the chances of having a bad day by 10%. Meaning is made in moments, and what matters most is the people we create those moments with.

Organizational consultant David Cooperrider subscribes to the notion that “what we appreciate, appreciates.” If we begin to appreciate the meaning that infiltrates our daily workplaces, then we will grow our capacity to seek it, and seize it. This, in turn, will increase the value of meaningfulness in our work and ensure that it gains the esteemed position it so desperately deserves: a position alongside happiness.

Source—Jessica Amortegui,


Categorized as Media

Series on Meaningfulness at Work – Being Happy

“I just want to be happy.” We have all said it at one time or another. The wish for happiness is one of our most widely held goals in life. But here’s the rub. Recent research suggests that happiness–as the be-all and end-all–isn’t the only ingredient to a life well-lived. As a result, some researchers are cautioning against the pursuit of mere happiness and advocating for the pursuit of its closest cousin: meaning.


At first blush, it may seem peculiar that there is a difference between feeling happy and finding life meaningful. In fact, they are positively correlated–but they don’t always go together. Findings from a recent study conducted by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, professor of psychology at University of North Carolina and her colleagues, examined self-reported levels of happiness and meaning, and the results were alarming: a whopping 75% of subject participants scored high on levels of happiness, but low on levels of meaning.

This divergence holds vast insight into where we invest and focus our energy, especially in the workplace. Increasing a sense of meaningfulness at work is one of the most potent–and underutilized–ways to increase productivity, engagement, and performance. Consider the latest survey findings from the Energy Project, an engagement and performance firm that focuses on workplace fulfilment, as well as the recent New York Times story on why many hate their jobs. The survey, which reached more than 12,000 employees across a broad range of companies and industries, found that 50% lack a level of meaning and significance at work.

Moreover, employees who derive meaning from their work are more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations – the highest single impact of any other survey variable they tested. By this account, meaning trumps items related to learning and growth, connection to a company’s mission, and even work-life balance. And the employees who have meaning don’t just stick around longer. They also report 1.7 times higher job satisfaction, and are 1.4 times more engaged at work.

Meaning matters, but how exactly do we find more meaning at work? It’s important to first understand why what makes us happy may not always bring more meaning, and vice versa. To answer this question, a recent Stanford research project, asked nearly 400 Americans whether they thought their lives were either happy or meaningful or both. The dissonance, in part, was how the two groups approach social interactions. Happiness is associated with being a ‘taker’, focusing on what one gets from others. Meaningfulness, in contrast, comes from being a ‘giver’, suspending what one wants and desires for a fair amount of self-sacrifice.

In other words, to amp up the meaning in work, we must temper our taking tendencies and dial up our acts of giving. This is an appreciable shift, especially when the modus operandi in most workplaces is to continuously seek more time, resources, and attention from others. Meaning is premised on an entirely different way of interacting–that is, giving to others in service of the ‘greater good’. Increasing a sense of meaningfulness at work is one of the most potent–and underutilized–ways to increase productivity, engagement, and performance.

Source—Jessica Amortegui,


Categorized as Media

Series on Building Confidence – Practise, practise…

Even the most successful people lack self-confidence at certain times. Self-confidence is not a static quality; rather, it’s a mindset that takes effort to maintain when the going gets rough. It must be learned, practiced and mastered just like any other skill. But once you master it, you will be changed for the better.


Positive energy and confidence in self leads to positive outcomes, so If your mind is set to the can-do side of any situation, avoiding the negative self-talk that can make one feel less confident.

It was this confidence that kept John Grisham going. He started out as a lawyer who loved to write. His first book A Time to Kill took three years to write and was rejected 28 times. He’s now gone on to sell over 250 million copies of his books.


Categorized as Media

Series on Building Confidence – Learning from Mistakes

Performing a role or completing a task confidently is not about not making mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable, especially when doing something new. Confidence includes knowing what to do when mistakes come to light and therefore is also about problem solving and decision making.

Milton Hershey’s chocolate enterprise was his third business after failing on the first two. Hershey grew up in the rolling farm country of Pennsylvania. Before he became interested in making chocolate, Milton Hershey trained to become a printer. He worked for a small newspaper at first, and then decided that printing was not the right profession for him.

Then he got a job at a candy factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a few miles from his home. After working a few years at the candy factory, he decided to open his own little candy business near Philadelphia. His first business had to close down because it was not making money. After closing down his first business, he traveled to Denver, Colorado, to learn how to make caramels.

He took his new skills back to New York and worked selling candies on the street. But this second business also failed. Finally, Milton Hershey moved back to the farm hills where he grew up. He then experimented with all sorts of different candies and chocolates. The area where he lived had lots and lots of dairy farms, so he had a large and easy supply of fresh milk.

And he could get other supplies, such as sugar, from nearby Philadelphia. By 1893 he was selling a million dollars worth of caramel candy per year. By experimenting, Milton Hershey discovered how to make delicious chocolate by using fresh, sweet condensed milk. His milk chocolates were so popular that he sold his caramel factory and focused his business on making chocolate only.

In 1903, the same year the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane at Kitty Hawk, Milton Hershey built a huge chocolate factory and an entire town to go with it. The town of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Categorized as Media

Series on Confidence Building – Overcoming fear of rejection

Confidence is not something that can be learned like a set of rules; confidence is a state of mind. Positive thinking, practice, training, knowledge and talking to other people are all useful ways to help improve or boost your confidence levels. Confidence comes from feelings of well-being, acceptance of your body and mind (self-esteem) and belief in your own ability, skills and experience.

Steven Spielberg wanted to study film at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. However, he was rejected due to his “C” grade average. He applied for the second time but got rejected again. Overall, he applied to USC three times- but was rejected all three times. He then applied and was admitted to California State University, Long Beach, where he majored in English.

While still a student, he was offered a small unpaid intern job at Universal Studios with the editing department. He was later given the opportunity to make a short film for theatrical release, the 26-minute, 35mm, Amblin’, which he wrote and directed.

Studio vice president Sidney Sheinberg was impressed by the film, which had won a number of awards and offered him a seven-year directing contract. It made him the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio.

Today, Steven Spielberg is a very successful film-maker and is known for his movies: Jaws, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Catch Me If You Can etc. He has directed 27 movies over four decades, has won 3 Oscars, including two for Best Director.

Categorized as Media

Series on Confidence Building – Fear of Failure

One of the things that holds people back from pursuing their dreams is fear of failure and the lack of self-confidence that is needed to overcome that fear.

It’s something everyone faces, to some degree. The key question: how do you overcome that fear? By working on self-confidence and self-esteem. And that’s what helps in overcome fears, and pursuing dreams. After leaving school, Bear Grylls briefly considered joining the Indian Army and hiked in the Himalayan mountains of Sikkim and West Bengal. Eventually, he joined the Territorial Army and, after passing selection, served as a reservist with the SAS in 21 SAS Regiment (Artists) (Reserve), for three years until 1997.

In 1996, he suffered a free-fall parachuting accident in Zambia. His canopy ripped at 16,000 ft, partially opening, causing him to fall and land on his parachute pack on his back, which partially crushed three vertebrae. According to his surgeon, he came “within a whisker” of being paralyzed for life and at first it was questionable whether he would ever walk again. He spent the next 12 months in and out of military rehabilitation.

In a showcase of what pure determination, self-confidence and hard work can do, on 16 May 1998 he achieved his childhood dream-climbed to the summit of Mount Everest, 18 months after breaking three vertebrae in a parachuting accident. At 23, he was at the time among the youngest people to have achieved this feat. He is known to the world as a television presenter for the Discovery Channel, with his own show called Man Vs. Wild.

Categorized as Media

Series on Confidence Building – Facing fear

Self-confident people are admired by others and inspire confidence in others. They face their fears head-on and tend to be risk takers. They know that no matter what obstacles come their way, they have the ability to get past them. Self-confident people tend to see their lives in a positive light even when things aren’t going so well, and they are typically satisfied with and respect themselves.

Sandeep Singh Bhinder is an Indian professional field hockey player and an ex-captain of the Indian National Team. He made his international debut in January 2004 in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup In Kuala Lumpur. He took over as the captain of the Indian national team in January 2009. At a time when he was at his peak, he was said to have the best speed in the world in drag flick (speed 145 km/h).

On 22 August 2006, Singh was seriously injured after being hit by an accidental gunshot in Shatabadi train, while on his way to join the national team due to leave for the World Cup in Germany two days later. He was almost paralyzed and on a wheelchair for two years of his life.

Bhinder not only recovered from that serious injury, but also established himself again in the team. Under his captaincy, the Indian team managed to clinch the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2009 after defeating Malaysia in the finals at Ipoh. India won the title after a long wait of 13 years. Singh was also the top goal scorer of the tournament.

Categorized as Media