In the world of givers and takers, be a #matcher
Redefining the pursuit of success
Have you heard the phrase “nice guys finish last” ? Or maybe another one which is also fairly common; “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”? I bet you have. And do they really reflect how things usually work? Well, apart from having a strong opinion which may support or undermine this thought, one should be aware of the research dealing with this open-ended question. So there I am, drinking my morning coffee, trying to summarise the main parts from what I recently have studied on this topic and gained through personal experience.
Barking up the wrong tree
The majority of what we have been told about the journey towards success is pretty straight-forward and logical, but still downright wrong.
One of the books worth mentioning in this context is “Barking up the wrong tree” by Eric Barker. It reveals the science behind achievement, both in personal and professional context, and also some controversial views on human ethics, confidence and ego.
The book claims that achieving success in life is not based on hustling like there’s no tomorrow and putting human relationships on the back-burner. Nor is it achieved through full compliance or people-pleasing behaviour typical for the people suffering with the “good-guy” syndrome.
This inspiring book teaches the importance of building long-term networks with the right players and also of learning HOW TO COOPERATE the right way. It lists the best lessons on building successful teams of strong individuals, based on various examples of illegal networks among pirates, drug dealers, street gang members and even serial killers.
A practical example of how alliances actually work in life and in business gets visualised through the so called PRISONERS DILEMMA – a typical TIT-FOR-TAT simulation (and you can google this one as it’s often mentioned in management and psychology). Long story short, the result of this dilemma will be the following. As long as both prisoners cooperate, they generate value for each other and make their stay behind bars shorter, meaning both are better off. If one of the parties breaks the alliance and decides to be opportunistic at the costs of the other one, it will make one party better off in the short-term, however both parties worse off in the long-term. Usually much sooner than expected, the other party pulls the trigger too. Eventually, both parties will have to take more accountability for their “mess” and face a jail punishment which is longer than initially intended.
Now, this approach is not a rocket science. What this theory further exposes is the perfect moral question of everyday choices – between going after vs. letting go of short-term “comforts & treats”, between taking advantage vs. staying loyal to certain values or cheating vs. non-cheating in human relationships. However, in reality things might not be as black and white as illustrated, as all parties act according to information which is definitely not evenly distributed.
On givers and takers
Essential remains the question whether nice guys REALLY finish last and if so, to which extent.
From my point of view, it is more than essential to distinguish between the long and short term perspective of looking at this. While GIVERS might be seen as naturally driven care-takers, acceptance seekers and “yes-word” providers, they are able to sustain this ONLY to the edge where their own integrity or well-being gets threatened. As a common result, after some time they can turn into fairly resentful and paranoid creatures. Another risky behaviour on this end of the equation is adapting one’s boundaries to the standards set by others and expressing their violation when it’s already a little bit too late.
Takers are the exact opposite of givers, used to be the ultimate negotiators, standard pushers, rule-breakers and proactive change seekers, which is not a bad thing at all. Where this behaviour gets dysfunctional is a context where they loose control over their own egos and start placing bigger demands on their environment than they do on themselves. Almost anyone working in various professional or industrial contexts can provide you with the evidence of the following pattern; managers investing a lot of effort into micro-politics may rise to the top earlier, however they tend to suck in their newly gained roles. And not due to lack of technical know-how, but due to the lack of soft skill, empathy and trust required for leadership and keeping their closest team intact.
As you can see by now, people with personalities on both of these extreme points will eventually face serious shit.
The legend of a matcher
Matchers are true legends in this game. They are the genius souls curious to explore new potentials and eager to play in a way that is flexible and sustainable both for them and their counterparts. They know the fine line. And they know how to dance on the cutting edge. Therefore, a matcher will rarely over-invest and rather let things develop naturally.
As a rule of thumb, matchers do not take fact fatally and are the ones who focus on the process and not on the outcome. As the time flies, they will show how perfectly they can match your behaviour while holding their own strategic ground. All without inconvenient push and making the playground of other fish in the same pond smaller. Thanks to their strongly developed sense for mutual value exchange and progressive involvement of their co-players, matchers are able to bring a captivating energy into the room. This allows them to walk not only fast but also far and innovate in a jaw-dropping manner.
So if you have a choice, choose to be legendary.
Do not overdo and dare to be a #matcher.