Be “Abundant” – The key to success is giving

In a post in SmartBrief last month, Lorne Rubis, President and CEO of Ryzex, talked about something he calls the “Character Triangle”. The Triangle defines the three key values and attributes that leaders and team-members need to exhibit and embody for peak performance, supporting optimal teamwork and learning. Two of the values – Accountability and Respect – almost go without saying. Naturally, accountability and respect are essential to teamwork and on-going success. But the third value surprised me – and got me really excited. The third value is Abundance. I love that.

You need to be abundant. Cool. What does that mean? Well, abundance is extremely plentiful, it’s an overflowing fullness. Abundant people have presence, confidence, and vivacity. They don’t need to take anything from other people to be successful. They’re literally overflowing with energy, ideas, spirit and drive.

How can you demonstrate your abundance?

Give away your ideas.
This is a controversial concept. I’m in a creative business, so one’s ideas are how he or she gets judged. If you give your ideas to others, aren’t you giving away the opportunity to profit from them? And shouldn’t you be wary of all those people who steal ideas, who claim ownership of things they didn’t do, who hog credit?

Well, this is all wrong. Instead of reserving your ideas, holding them tight, and not letting people hear them, build on them or collaborate on them, you should be sharing them. First, ideas get better when shared. Secondly, when you give them away, you then need to come up with more, newer, better ideas. This keeps you filling your idea tank. And when you openly share your ideas, other people will want to share theirs’ with you. The more you give, the more you’ll get – it’s like idea Karma.

Give your time.
Here’s another counter-intuitive concept – the less time you have, the more you should give to others. How’s that? We’re all pressured for time, running around crazed, working 24/7, wishing there were more hours in the day. When someone asks for your help, do you say you don’t have time? Well, find the time. Because when you give your time to someone else in need, it somehow makes more time for you. How? First of all, it makes you feel better – which gives you satisfaction, and energy. Don’t underestimate the power of feeling good. This can help your productivity. Secondly, spending time helping someone else just may be the work break you need to help you turbo-charge your own productivity when you return to your work. And finally, your help now will return back to you when you need it most.

Be happy when others succeed.
It’s a fact – our natural reaction when we hear someone else has had a major success is to feel jealous, and a bit bummed. How can they be doing so well? What are they doing that I’m not? What’s wrong with me? Etc. But that’s extremely small minded. And illogical. The better response is to be happy for them.

First of all, as competitive as the world is, we aren’t competing with our colleagues or acquaintances for our success. Success is not a zero-sum game – our colleagues’ success doesn’t limit the amount of success left for us. If you’re confident in yourself (and “abundant”), you believe that you will experience success by doing what you are doing, as well. Plus, others’ successes can be good for you – in the contacts, connections, insights and inspiration it can give you access to.

Instead, practice the Buddhist concept of Mudita – which is “the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being rather than begrudging it.” I call this “the opposite of Schadenfreude”.  Relish their successes as you would your own.

Give the benefit of the doubt.
I’m sure, to most of us, work can seem like a full-contact sport. Ideas are “killed”, people “fire back” at each other, there are “opposing” viewpoints, people have “detractors”. We quickly size up situations, develop assumptions and react, respond, and strike back. All this can lead us, incorrectly, to assumptions of bad intent.

No doubt, things will always go wrong. People make mistakes. Communication goes awry. However, don’t assume the worst of people. Remember Hanlon’s Razor – “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”. Or poor email etiquette. Or an errant thumb on a text. Or, simply a brain-f*rt. Instead of getting angry and lashing out, give the benefit of the doubt. Take a moment to gain understanding. Nine times out of ten you’ll find no bad intent. Just bad emailing.

Be a “Radiator”.
I’ve talked about this before (in the post “Be a Yes-Person”) – “Radiators” are the opposites of “Drains”. They radiate energy, enthusiasm, and possibility. So, naturally, abundant people are Radiators – charging up others with their cornucopia of plenty. Don’t be a Drain.

Well, what do you think? Is abundance a quality we need? How do you demonstrate it?


  1. Great post, Michael, I love this concept and completely agree. Have you ever read Keith Ferrazzi’s ‘Never Eat Alone?’ He talks a lot about generosity and giving without expecting anything in return. If we do that, in the various ways you mention above, we never know what might come back to us, but that’s a good thing. Ferrazzi talks about a lack of a scorecard and that through generosity we can build relationships and friendships that can be most beneficial for others. This also allows us to connect others with similar likes or interests when we genuinely get to know them, but this takes time. Similar to what you talk about above in terms of giving our time away. In fact, we just wrote a couple blog posts of our own about generosity and applying the Ferrazzi concepts. Check them out at and keep up the great writing.

    1. Thanks so much for the comments. I’ll check out your posts as well as the Ferrazzi book, Scott. I definitely have a bunch to work on, myself. I happen to eat alone WAY too much…
      Keep reading!

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