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Give and take

My grandmother worked in a Jefferson City, Missouri, school cafeteria for many years. Every winter, she would drag herself home after a long day of feeding hundreds of students, only to fire up the oven yet again. While this may sound like drudgery, she was energized by the task.

She was making batch after batch of holiday cookies for her nine grandchildren.

After a lovely meal and a round of presents, she gave each of us a big kiss, and an even bigger coffee can stuffed to the brim with a variety of elaborately decorated, delicious cookies. She poured her love into her work, and we repaid her in the form of hugs and sugar-coated smiles.

In organizations, there’s a low-calorie version of this give-and-take that happens every day. Some workers bring specialized skills or creativity. Others may contribute mentorship or motivation. This is no one-way street, of course. These same workers may be inspired by their organization’s mission, or enjoy opportunities for growth and development.

It can be easy to lose sight of this reciprocity due to the demands of day-to-day work. That’s why I’ve created this simple worksheet to help you recall all that you give and all that you receive when it comes to your work. Complete it for yourself to rekindle your relationship with your workplace. Then share it with your team members to help them do the same.


Matt Poepsel, PhD is the author of Expand the Circle: Enlightened Leadership for Our New World of Work and host of the Lead the People podcast. He serves as Vice President & Godfather of Talent Optimization at The Predictive Index. He holds a PhD in Psychology, an MBA, and a Harvard Business School Certificate of Management Excellence. Matt has more than 25 years of leadership experience as a software executive and consultant. He’s also a US Marine, an Ironman triathlon finisher, and a student of Buddhist philosophy.

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