The Law of Equilibrium Part 2

July 5, 2005

By: Matt Michel

People should join trade associations not for what the association can do for them, but for what they can do for their industry through their association. Few takers join trade associations. Givers join.

Givers are the most active in their trade associations, most active in their communities, and most giving in general. They are usually the most successful. Givers do not suddenly “arrive” and become charitable. They were always that way. They always gave, even when they didn’t have a lot. They give much, receive much, and over time, have plenty.

Mitch Cropp in Fairfax, Virginia is a giver. He operates one of the most successful contracting companies in the country. A past National Chairman of Air Conditioning Contractors of America, Mitch is known for being one of the most open people in his industry. Mitch will help anyone, even his competitors. He says that when he helps others, he inevitably learns something, gains, or otherwise benefits. His own gain is not his motive for helping. It just happens.

Few people in the service trades have helped more people with no thought of return than legendary contractor Frank Blau in Milwaukee. Frank was instrumental in the start of a private contractor group not because he needed help – Frank’s been very successful – but because the group was a way to help other contractors. While Frank has undoubtedly been successful in business, he has also been successful in life. Frank is a George Bailey of his industry, positively affecting the lives of an entire community of people. Frank is a giver.

I was at Lee Rosenberg’s house in San Antonio last week. Lee is another giver. He had just returned from a meeting of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Talk about a thankless job, but also one that is very necessary.

Lee is another past National Chairman of the ACCA and is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Service Roundtable. He built and sold a very successful company and is now helping his son do the same thing. In an unguarded moment, Lee said that because the air conditioning industry has been good to him, he owed the industry and one of the ways he paid his debt was helping it through the trade association. Well, Lee started paying his “debt” long before it was owed. He didn’t start “giving” once he reached the top. It started long before, while he was just beginning his climb.

You see, it’s not success that allows people like Mitch, Frank, Lee, and countless others to give of themselves. It’s giving of themselves that somehow results in success. Life has a way of giving back what you give. It’s the law of equilibrium.

You do not have to be the president of a national trade association to be a giver. Givers are everywhere and sometimes the most significant results arise from the smallest acts. Recently, for example, a Service Roundtable member has been struggling with a problem employee. I won’t use his name, but it was clear that he was agonizing over the right way to handle a difficult situation.

Lots of people offered him advice, some focused on the human aspect of the dilemma, while others focused on the business aspect. Though the business aspect was significant and couldn’t be ignored, the human aspect was somewhat debatable. The contractor arrived at a decision to do his best to help the employee, even while he made some hard decisions out of business necessity. He didn’t have to try to help. Some might think it’s a lost cause. Some might even say it’s risky.

He explained, “We as employers affect people’s lives every day. And you are right, we cannot tolerate their problems in the workplace. But if I fire this person without any offer of help, he will definitely continue downhill.”

“It is far better to help others,” he wrote, “than to completely turn your back and ignore the problems that other people have.”

Here’s a person who is giving without need or expectation of a return. He’s doing it because he thinks it’s the right thing to do. It will come back, even if only indirectly. If nothing else, treating an employee well who may not “deserve” it, gets noticed by other employees. They recognize the effort.

I think people work harder for givers and are more loyal because they know givers will first work hard for, and are loyal to them. Yes, the giver might get burn from time to time, but as they say, “what goes around, comes around.”

The law of equilibrium affects you and your business in countless ways whether you observe it or not. To receive, first give.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2004 Matt Michel

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