Being a "Go-Giver" can lead to success and happiness.
More than my Tom Cruise "Top Gun" jet pilot fantasies, I mean. Social psychologists have discovered a principle called "reciprocity." When someone does a favor, we feel obliged to return it. We'll do more than the original favor. They give us a free piece of chewing gum, we let them borrow our car and total it. If you doubt this principal, take a good look at your romantic relationships.
This makes sense! If we all give more than we receive, everyone wins. It bonds a community. Unless, of course, you're one of the 5% of the population who's sociopathic, and statistically, there are a lot of you listening. In your case, screw the community! Just remember that reciprocity pretty much guarantees you'll get ahead by being generous.
The Best Things in Life Are Free
You don't have to give things. Advice and assistance are giving. While I was writing this, a friend asked a question on Twitter. I called and solved her problem. It took about 30 seconds. Giving accomplished!
In terms of business, you can give more value than your payment in lots of ways. My philosophy is that I want to give at least ten times the value I charge, and I charge a lot. That means my clients end up being people with very big goals. Otherwise, I can't deliver the high value-to-price ratio.
If you're in a service business, you can deliver value in the form of extra service. Be available by e-mail or BlackBerry in ways that other people aren't. Deliver at unusual hours. Be a plumber who works noon to 8 p.m. so you can charge daytime rates and provide service after people get home from work. Or wear a clown costume and make balloon animals for the kids while you fix the pipes. Be creative.