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Good takers make the best givers

"Are you a giver or a taker?"

This is a toxic question that presupposes a world in which the giver is the good guy and the taker is the bad guy. 

Often, in our attempt to not be the bad-guy taker, we end up not giving to the person who wants to give to us, interrupting the cycle of creating mutual benefits with others.

But, before we get to that more personal way that the good-bad giver/taker idea brings toxicity to our lives, let's look at how this idea has played out and continues to play out in the political/business arenas. 

"You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."

—Zig Ziglar

The most significant and often maligned takers in the world were the best givers

Thomas Edison was a taker who amassed a wealth of about $200 million in today's dollars.

Henry Ford was a huge taker, personally raking in about $200 billion in today's dollars.

More currently, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have been greedy takers, out competing other money-grubber takers, piling up much more than $100 billion each.

These huge takers have been the very best givers in their capacity as takers


They were only able to take so much because they found ways to give so much that people were willing to take from them. Through their technological and business acumen, they discovered ways to give to others, more and better win-win opportunities than would have been available otherwise to those people (whom we call buyers). These buyers took advantage of what these mega-takers (sellers) had to give them that was better than what other takers (their would-be competitors) who could not give them as much in exchange for their taking.

Unlike philanthropic giving, an important type of giving, but one that does not occur so obviously that the giver is also a taker, the giving and taking that these business tycoons engaged and engage in was sustainable because the more that the tycoons were able to give, the more they could take. This enabled them to give even more and then take in more, a virtuous cycle. Philanthropy is not self-sustainable and virtuous in this way.

Bad takers are bad givers

Recently, a good friend of mine (let's call him Mark) was enjoying a conversation with one of his brothers. Mark does okay in his life, but recently he got himself into a bit of debt that was something he'd rather not have. His brother has done quite well for himself financially and shared with Mark, "I've got more money than I know what to do with. Tell me how much debt you have and I'll give you the money to pay it off."

Mark told me that, out of his tendency to be a "good guy," he had to catch himself before he blurted out something he would have done in the past like, "Oh, you don't need to do that. I'm okay."

Instead, after a moment to reflect, the replied to his brother, "That is so thoughtful and generous of you. That would make a huge difference for me. I am grateful."

Although we don't tend to notice how Mark is giving to his brother by being a good taker, he is. If Mark had responded to his brother in his old way when he was trying to prove he was a "good guy," he would have deprived his brother the feeling of pleasure and power that his brother got to feel by doing something that was easy for him to do that made such a difference to his brother Mark whom he loved. Mark would have been a bad taker and it would have made him a bad giver because he was refusing to let his brother give to him in this way.

Fortunately, Mark caught himself and responded to his brother's offer with gratitude and appreciation, thereby giving back to his brother in the way his brother wanted to be given to. By being a good taker Mark became a good giver.

Start to notice how bad takers make them worse givers than they would be otherwise

Notice this both in yourself and in others. 

How does it make you feel when you give someone a genuine compliment and they dismiss it?

How does it make you feel when you'd like to assist someone in a way that would be helpful to them but they refuse your help out of their "not wanting to take advantage" of you?

How often do you notice someone who is always giving to others, but doesn't take care of themselves and even pushes away the attempts of others to help them or support them?

It can be a choice of courage to accept help from others.

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