Book Review: Give and Take

giveandtake-coverAs part of my journey to read less for more (read that post here), I chose 5 books for the month of January to dive into. Final report? I read 3 of the 5 and read an unplanned 4th.

I finished Give and Take first in 2014, and thoroughly enjoyed this book by organizational psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant. Written in a style similar that Malcolm Gladwell, Grant combines research along with narrative examples to display the power of giving. The thesis is found on page 4:

“According to conventional wisdom, highly successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. If we want to succeed, we need a combination of hard work, talent, and luck. The story of…highlights a fourth ingredient, one that’s critical but often neglected: success depends heavily on how we approach our interaction with other people. Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: Do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?”

For the rest of the work, Grant shows time and time again the value of being a giver in work, life, and leadership. So often, we assume that to succeed we must be primarily concerned about “numero uno” — but Grant shows us the research as well as the anecdotes from real life tell us the opposite is true.


Givers put the success of the group ahead of their individual success.
Givers aren’t assessing a cost-analysis every time they choose to give or take from someone. They just give. Period.
Givers are contagious. Giving spreads.
Giving is a “genius-making” quality.
Givers see the potential in everyone and everything.
Givers are more receptive to learning and receiving feedback.
Givers are vulnerable, and vulnerability is becoming a more and more common trait followers want to see in their leaders.
Givers allow space for others to speak and be heard.

Tweet: Givers are vulnerable, and vulnerability is becoming a trait followers want to see in their leaders. are vulnerable, and vulnerability is becoming a trait leaders want to see in their leaders.

The key takeaway:
Right around the time I turned 30 years old, I also changed jobs. I took a few months to reflect on this change, and one of the primary shifts that occurs with turning 30 (and becoming a husband, father, and leader) is that life is less about taking (what can I receive? where can I grow? how can I succeed?) than giving (how can I give? how can I help others grow? how can I help others succeed?). Admittedly, this shift is not easy. It requires setting aside an ugly ego and deep-seated pride. But it’s necessary.

While I’m still a work in progress, my 30s are devoted to becoming more and more of a giver and less of a taker. When I’m done with ministry, life, and leadership, I want others to see me as a giver, not as a taker. It will take some work, but it’s the key to success.

What is one thing you can do to GIVE to someone today? 

Read Less For More

Recently, my old boss and still current mentor Don Graffam gave me some notes I had given up regarding goals I was setting for 2011. On the sheet, it said: “Read less books and spend more time with God reading scripture, praying, and meditating.”

Last year, with my current boss Ray Zaffke, one of my personal goals was to “Read less books and spend more time with God.”

In other words, I’ve felt the need to create the same goal two years in a row because I haven’t done it, specifically the reading books side. On the positive side, I’ve vastly improved the amount of time I spend listening to God and reading scripture, but I haven’t decreased the amount of books I’ve read.

Guess what? I’m going to make it a goal again! 

But this year, I’m serious about it. For too long, I’ve known the amount of books I’ve read (100-120 a year) isn’t the best for my personal development. There comes a point when too much is too much, and it’s not effectively doing what books are supposed to do: To help people grow, change,  learn, and be challenged and inspired. 

So, this year, I’m going to READ LESS FOR MORE. Here’s the plan.

* I’m going to read 4-5 books a month (Not including the books I read to reference for messages and speaking).
* I will typically read one ministry book, one spiritual growth book, one leadership book, and one to two random books (fiction or non-fiction).
* I’m going to write a review of every book I read on this blog, to help me slow down and reflect on what I’ve read.
* I’m going to choose the books at the beginning of the month and let you know which ones I’m going to read.

And during it all, I’m going to read through the bible in a year using this bible reading plan.

By doing this, I hope to reflect, savor, and chew on the words of the books I’m reading more. In other words, I want to read less for more impact, more change, more inspiration, and more growth.

So, for the month of January, here the five books:

giveandtake-cover1. Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant

Inn Secret

2. Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret by Larry Osborne


3. The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley


4. Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson


5. GIlead by Marilynne Robinson

What are you planning to read this month?