The Rational Giver... or how helping others will mathematically help yourself.

When we think about being a giver vs being a taker, we think about helping others vs helping ourselves. Still, it becomes clear to me that helping others is probably the best way to help yourself.

I haven’t invented anything, this statement can be read in many personal growth books, even in pretty old ones, like the amazing How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I just wanted to put it together with simple mathematics, because I like mathematics 😜


Figure 1. The givers wins. +12 vs +8
Let me explain the figure. At the beginning of the arrow is what a person gives, and at the end, it represents what a person receives.

It’s often not a zero-sum game
The assumption here is that it’s not always a zero-sum game. There are many cases where you can give something that costs you less and that will bring a lot to the receiver. A simple thing like a smile can even cost you nothing and being of value to someone. If you make an intro, it may take you 1 min and save the person a week of research.

When focusing on one relationship, the taker wins
Most of the time, we focus on one relationship in particular. In which case it makes sense that you may be taken advantage of if you are a giver. In the figure, when you look only at the relationship with Filipa, a selfish move would be to make sure she reciprocates.

It makes sense right. If you feel like you give 10 to someone, you may want to expect the same and being pissed off if the person doesn’t reciprocate.


Figure 2. The taker wins. +8 vs +3
Look at the big picture and the giver wins
However, making sure you always get the same value as you give will considerably slow down the process and people will be less willing to reciprocate too, so you’ll end up having way less of these exchanges, resulting in less gain in value overall, as shown in figure 1.

On top of it, with a giver attitude and without being too naive and taking a bit of distance from the takers, you will end up surrounded by givers, who will actually have the same mentality and try to give you more than what you give them.

Scaling up
Now imagine a community of people who all try to give more than they receive! We all end up receiving way more than we give because no matter how hard we try to give, we receive so much that we cannot keep the pace! That’s what we’re trying to do with UNLOCKT.

So here’s my cold nerdy rational mathematical approach to being a giver… Yeah, I’m not the Dalai Lama or Mother Teresa but if everyone does this, it’s a pretty good start. And who know, the beautiful selfless intention may naturally arise later on… If you want to help yourself, stop calculating and simply try to give, it will pay back!

This is a mentality shared by most successful people. You can listen to Tim Ferriss’ comment on this, at 10'55:

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