Karma: It’s a Beauty

We’ve all heard about karma. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it’s the total effect of a person’s actions, both mental and physical, in this and past lives, on that person’s existence. And we learned it from our elders as “you reap what you sow.”

Wharton School Professor Adam Grant has taken this same philosophical approach and applied it to business. In his book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Grant says that most people operate as takers, matchers, or givers at work. “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.”

While the philosophy itself is ancient, Grant takes his research to a whole new level by applying it to business to show how these styles impact success. In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Grant states, “A willingness to help others achieve their goals lies at the heart of effective collaboration, innovation, quality improvement, and service excellence. In workplaces where such behavior becomes the norm, the benefits multiply quickly.” He offers anecdotal evidence through case studies to support his findings.

He also looks at how employee evaluations and rewards are doled out and how it can undercut any attempts at fostering a cooperative environment. After all, who hasn’t seen Gordon Gekko as well as real-life examples, who demonstrate the efforts of one to become mega-rich at the cost of others?

In a Forbes interview, Grant states, “today, what goes around comes around faster. The world of work has become much more interdependent, making relationships and reputations increasingly important in shaping the innovative ideas, business opportunities, client referrals, and promotions that come our way. There are at least three major trends behind the rise in interdependence.”

Those major trends include those in the service industry meeting the needs of their clients to define future success. He also states one of those major trends as the advent of social networking and tracking employees connections.

I would add that karma is one of the guiding principles in successful social media practices—giving others what they need to help them make informed decisions and not just trying to make a hard sell.

Helping others always makes people feel good. Volunteers often talk about how their reward is helping others. The same can be used in a business setting. Think about your professional connections: when someone has called you up for advice, didn’t it feel great to be able to offer support and help? That person that you helped may or may not ever be in a position to help you, but that isn’t what being a “giver” is all about.

As a business owners in a service industry, I think that this book and its findings are spot-on. So, whether you pick up the book and read it for yourself, which I recommend, or simply start paying it forward on your own, see how you can improve your life, and your quality of life through the service of others, and maybe just maybe, you will reap what you sow.

Story by Jennifer Taylor

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