Help Others Succeed to Build Your Success

Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things.   1) Get to know yourself.  Use this self knowledge to better understand others.  2) Build long term, supportive and mutually beneficial relationships with the people in your life.  3) Resolve conflict positively.  Use conflict as an opportunity to strengthen, not weaken your relationships.

The May 209 issue of SUCCESS Magazine arrived in my mailbox the other day.  It’s a great issue that features a lot of successful women.  The “From the Archives” column featured a 1977 piece on Carol Burnett, for my money the greatest female comedian ever.  Cathy is a Carol Burnett fan.  I gave her the article.  Two days later I went looking for the magazine as I wanted to use it to write a blog post.  Cathy hadn’t realized that I wasn’t done with it.  She had trashed it.  Fortunately we recycle.  So I went right to our paper recycling bin and dug through it to find my precious copy of SUCCESS.  It was there and dry.  What a relief!

I really love SUCCESS.  Every issue is full of great information, advice and motivation.  If you’re not already a subscriber, I suggest you go to and subscribe.  You’ll be glad you did.

The May 2009 issue has an article about Patrick McGovern, founder of International Data Group, a $3 billion company that he founded in 1964 using the $5,000 he got from selling his car as start up money.  Patrick shared his success strategies in a sidebar to the article.  Three of them are closely tied to my message in Straight Talk: optimism, lifelong learning and building relationships by helping others succeed.

Here’s what Mr. McGovern has to say about helping others succeed…

“The key to any business success is making someone else successful, so always look for ways you can help other people succeed.”

These words embody the ideas behind interpersonal competence.  When you help others, you help yourself.  The more you can help other people succeed, the more they will want to help you succeed.  This is a win/win situation, and something that interpersonally competent people do well and regularly.

If you read this blog with any regularity you know that I am a big believer in building relationships by giving with no expectation of return.  I believe that there is no room for quid pro quo in strong 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 building strong relationships.  When you come from a scarcity mentality, you focus more on holding on to what you have, rather than helping others – and yourself – get more.

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 and help, the more I receive; often from unlikely sources.  But that’s not my reason for giving and helping and I hope it is not yours.  The best reason for giving and helping is the basic joy of making a difference in other people’s lives.  Do that and the rest will take care of itself.

I love the Liberty Mutual responsibility ads.  They are a very visual demonstration of 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.

In the end, giving help 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 find it difficult to build long term supportive and mutually beneficial relationships.  If you come from an abundance mentality, you will give with no expectation of return and begin to create strong relationships.

I choose abundance.  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 and strong relationships that will see you through difficult times.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are interpersonally competent.  Interpersonally competent people build strong relationships with the people in their lives.  You can build strong relationships by helping others succeed.  Go first.  Forget about quid pro quo.  Pay it forward.  Do what you can for other people and you’ll build strong relationships that will help you become a personal and professional success and live a fulfilling life.

That’s my take on relationship building by helping others succeed.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  If you have experienced positive karma by having one of your good deeds repaid in an unlikely manner, tell us about it.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. Bud,
    Excellent post. Reminds me of what Zig Ziglar always says – “you can get everything in life you want if you just help enough others get what they want”. Positive, giving people draw others to them and their ability to succeed is greater. Individuals with the “what’s in it for me” attitude get only the value _they_ see in a relationship rather than the full value available.
    Ben Davis

  2. Ben:
    Thanks for your comment.
    I agree with you when you say, “Positive, giving people draw others to them.”
    People like to be around happy, upbeat people. Being positive and willing to help others is a great start on building a successful life and career.
    All the best,

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