Over lunch I was looking at “most-e-mailed articles” on my New York Times app, and ran across this little gem about how motivating it is to help others. Rather than a doctor’s office sign that says “Washing hands keeps you from getting sick”, a statistically more successful sign says something like, “Washing hands keeps your patients from getting sick.” See the difference? I get sick? I’ll take my chances. I make the patient sick? That would be terrible!
Design decisions being made by a beginning adult student. -Fall 2012 Glencliff Art Studi0
I wouldn’t go so far as to consider myself completely altruistic, but I will say that the reason I love teaching, whether it is teaching a teenagers’ Sunday School class, or helping individuals learn art techniques and creative ways of thinking, is for the thrill of observing a person have a new thought, see from a different perspective, make a new kind of mark. I have read repeatedly of studies showing that classroom teachers are not motivated by money nearly as much as they are motivated by seeing students succeed. This is something I can identify with.
Now about that non-sequitur in the title of the article, “Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?”. Is it even possible to use giving as a means of promoting oneself? Isn’t it true that as soon as my motivation to give is thinking that I will profit many times over the effort I put in, I am no longer giving, but investing for myself?