Career Success Advice From the Kevin Jordan and Tom Walter Story

People often ask me where I get ideas for this career advice blog.  My answer is that there is no shortage of ideas if you just pay attention to what’s happening around you.  Last night the closing story on the NBC Nightly News was about a college baseball coach who has donated a kidney to one of his players.

Wake Forest University Baseball Coach Tom Walter donated one of his kidneys to outfielder Kevin Jordan.  As it turns out, none of Kevin’s family was a match while the coach was.  Jordan has a rare condition that causes abnormal antibodies to attack white blood cells and damage his kidney.  Prior to the surgery he was on dialysis 22 hours a day and was close to death.

Kevin Jordan is a freshman at Wake Forest.  He has yet to play a game with the team, and he won’t be playing this season.  He will be recuperating at home.  He plans on playing next year. Coach Walter says that he will be with his team when they play their first game against LSU in two weeks.

You might be wondering what the career advice is in this story.  It’s simple.  Successful people realize that no one goes it alone.  They need strong relationships to create their life and career success.

Tweet 127 in my latest career success book Success Tweets says, “Pay it forward.  Build relationships by giving with no expectation of return.  Give of yourself to build strong relationships.”  You don’t have to go to the lengths that Tom Walter did.  But he is a living example of giving of yourself to build strong relationships.

In 2009 I participated in a writing project with my colleagues at the Creating WE Institute.  We published a little book called 42 Rules for Creating WE.  The rules were short essays that contained a lot of great career advice

I contributed three rules.  One was called “There is No Quid Pro Quo in WE.”  This rule goes directly to the idea of paying it forward described in Tweet 127.  I’d like to share the career advice in this essay – with a few minor edits — with you here.

WE is built on relationships; the idea that we are all connected, and that through a WE-centric, rather than a traditional I-centric approach, our collective wisdom grows and evolves.  This kind of thinking creates stronger organizations and societies.  It fosters mutual shared respect for the unique contribution every person is capable of making.  Solid, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are at the core of WE.  Giving with no expectation of return is a great way to create these types of relationships.

This is a quid pro quo world: you do for me and I’ll do for you.  While there is nothing wrong in reciprocating a good deed or a favor, there is a fundamental problem with quid pro quo.  It is reactive not proactive.  Too many people wait for others to go first.  They adopt the attitude, “When and if you do for me, I’ll do for you.”  This scarcity mentality is not conducive to creating WE, or building strong relationships.  When you come from a scarcity mentality, you focus on holding on to what you already have.  This can prevent you from receiving what you might possibly get.

On the other hand, giving with no expectation of return comes from a proactive abundance mentality.  When you give with no expectation of return, you are acknowledging the abundance of the universe.  You are demonstrating faith that the good you do will benefit others close to you and the world at large – and that good things will come back to you.

Giving with no expectation of return is ironic.  I have found that the more I give, the more I receive; often from unlikely sources.  But that’s not my reason for giving — and I hope it is not yours.  The best reason for giving is the basic joy of making a difference in other people’s lives and in creating a WE-centric world.

I love the Liberty Mutual Insurance “responsibility” ads.  They are a very visual demonstration of the ideas behind creating WE – especially giving with no expectation of return.  You’ve probably seen them. 

They begin with someone going a little out of his or her way to do something that benefits others; picking up a piece of trash, opening a door for another person who’s hands are full.  Another person observes this and goes out of his or her way for someone else.  The cycle repeats several times during the ad.  The message is clear.  We are all better off when we help each other.

Giving without expectation of return not only helps you create a WE-centric culture, it helps you build strong partnerships.  Larry Agresto is a WE-centric guy.  He says, “Truly successful people never compete, they network and leverage their relationships by providing value and giving more than they receive.”

In the end, giving with no expectation of return comes down to your mentality – scarcity or abundance.  If you come from a scarcity mentality, you will live by quid pro quo, and perpetuate the I-centric status quo.  If you come from an abundance mentality, you will give with no expectation of return and begin to create a WE-centric world and create the kind of strong, mutually beneficial relationships that will help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.

I choose abundance and paying it forward.  I agree with Winston Churchill who once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”  When you give with no expectation of return you will get a good life.  You’ll also get a better world; one in which we all look out for one another.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  Successful people are adept at building strong relationships.  They understand and use the career advice in Tweet 127 in Success Tweets.  “Pay it forward.  Build relationships by giving with no expectation of return.  Give of yourself to build strong relationships.”  Paying it forward is the opposite of quid pro quo.  When you go first – give of yourself to help someone else, with no expectations of return – you are laying the foundation for a successful relationship.  When you wait to reciprocate a good deed by another person, you are engaging in quid pro quo behavior that usually results in lost relationship opportunities.  Do yourself a favor, follow this career advice when it comes to relationship building – pay it forward. 

Those are my thoughts on the powerful career success lesson that comes from the Kevin Jordan – Tom Walter story.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading these musings on life and career success.


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  1. I like the fact that “when you look everything around you” you can see the answers and questions and you can use that to help you a better person or do better.. thanks for sharing this one.

  2. Examples of good advice are al around us. We just have to pay attention.
    Thanks for your comment.
    Have a great weekend.

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