Takers, Traders and Investors

Years ago I heard a highly successful businessman tell a story about his leadership journey and how one statement from his dad completely changed his success pathway. This man was in business with his dad, building an organization of leaders for personal and professional development. They would hold meetings at regular intervals to share their business idea with potential leaders who might join their mission.  He would only attend those meetings when he had something personal to gain – like growing his organization by those he invited. If he had no one personally attending, he would no show. Eventually his dad pulled him aside and simply told him, “You are a taker”. How would you like to hear that from your dad, particularly if you’re part of his business?

In a recent audio I heard the speaker share something similar, but broke it out further. He said people tended to fall into three categories:

1.       Takers – These people do what the label says and what the man referenced above was doing – they take. They do not give. They show up to receive. They speak to be heard. It’s about them and them alone.

2.       Traders – These people give conditionally. Traders try to fool us and sometimes themselves. They will help, but only if it will be reciprocated. Some are outright about it; others just keep score and, trust me, payment will be required – eventually. Interestingly, I’d prefer a taker over a trader. At least takers are clear about their interest.

3.       Investors – These people give, and often receive; they just don’t plan or make receiving the condition. In a way, the lack of return is a gift in itself. They’re investing in the relationship, the cause, the opportunity. The mere definition suggests there will be a return, but that return is not guaranteed, nor is the level of return. These are the unconditional, unselfish leaders you want in your organization and your life. The best marriages are built with investors. The best businesses are made up of investors. The best teams thrive with investors.

This year, let’s commit to being investors. Let’s give. And give again. Let’s invest in people, even ourselves. Let’s invest in our marriage, our kids, our teams, our community, our church.  Let’s not keep score.

After hearing Anne Beiler of Aunt Annie’s Pretzels speak at a local leadership event, I remember one thing that stuck with me. Here is what she said, “Give, to receive, to give again”. Pretty much nails the investor mindset.