When I was growing up, my dad told me often, “If you give enough people what they want, you’ll get everything you want.” As a rebellious teen trying to make my own way, I let these wise words go in one ear and out the other. Through the journey of finding myself, I’ve come full circle to understanding the wisdom in my dad’s words. I’ll explain what I mean, and give you some ways to get everything you want.
You get things in life by producing or trading (or stealing, but we’re all civilized here I hope). Unless you only have basic needs and wants (in which case you’re not reading this), you can’t possibly produce everything you need. Trade is a prerequisite for a complex economy. This isn’t an economics lesson, but it’s more efficient when people focus on what they do best. To trade, you have to be able to give someone else something they want.
There are a few lucky people that just naturally love doing something that people happen to really want, the rest of end up having “work” and “play.” Long term, I am looking for those two to fall deeply in love, but in the meantime I want to keep getting more effective at working… meaning I want to be really good at giving people what they want.
When my Work someday marries my Play, I’ll be ready with all the skills to be effective. In the meantime, I’ll be able to make more money by becoming more useful along the way. Win win.
Here are a few ideas to get your brain thinking:
- Help your co-workers improve. The best way to learn something is to teach. Perhaps the easiest step is teaching what you already do. You don’t want to offer unwanted advice (that’s just annoying), but if you can find something valuable to offer to your co-workers, you’ll learn to find opportunity, develop communications, and perhaps most importantly, to lead.
- Find new jobs in spare time. If you have time, you should be learning something new. Work outside your position to learn and help someone else with their job, or find something new to do on the side. Doing new things gives you the opportunity to expand your skill set, and is your best bet to someday finding something you love that you didn’t know existed.
- Help your company solve problems. It doesn’t matter if it’s the place you plan to work for life, finding ways to improve the place you work will teach you to think like a business person. You can find ways to improve your position, help your boss hit their goals, or look for things to do that are being missed. Whatever it is, be prepared to hit a lot of hurdles. People don’t like change. Don’t take denial of your ideas personally. Learn to problem solve, and to work with people. Remember, you are learning to give them what they want.
- Start a new business filling a need. If you can do something you think people want, just do it. Start small. Fail. Refine. Try something else. Start again. There are “soft” ways to learn to give people what they want, and then there is jumping in to the ring swinging. This is the latter. There is no better way to learn what people want then to give them something, have them throw it in your face, and have the perseverance to get up and try again (hopefully with some modifications).
Wants are infinite and ever-changing and there are many paths to the top of the mountain. But the path to happiness and success is usually not followed, it is paved. So start paving.
How could you give someone something they want?