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Nearly 30 Years Ago, Steve Jobs Said There’s 1 Simple Habit That Separates the Doers From the Dreamers

Steve Jobs may no longer be with us, but Apple’s co-founder continues to make a lasting impact that will last for generations. In a classic 1994 interview, Jobs illustrated an uncommon habit found in the most successful people:

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask, and that’s what separates the people who do things from the people who just dream about them.

Jobs explains in the interview that, at the age of 12, he mustered up the courage to call up none other than Bill Hewlett, the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard. The ask? “I want to build a frequency counter, and I was wondering if you have any spare parts I could have,” said Jobs. Amused at the boldness of the boy on the other end of the line, Hewlett laughed and gave Jobs the spare parts. Oh, and a summer job at HP. Jobs said, “I was in heaven.”

Make the ask
This single phone impacted Jobs’s life and taught him one of the greatest lessons of his brilliant career: Be willing to ask for something you want.

In so many businesses today, fear keeps people from being open to asking for what they want and seeking help from their bosses, peers, and colleagues. According to research published in Harvard Business Review, 75 to 90 percent of all help people at work give to one another starts with making an ask.

However, many individuals refrain from asking for what they need, as their managers and executives do not encourage or reinforce this behavior. Consequently, nothing ends up happening most of the time.

The question is, does your environment foster the freedom and safety for employees to do this–to ask for help? One useful workplace idea to introduce to your team is what’s called a reciprocity ring.

Enter the reciprocity ring
Social scientist pioneers Wayne and Cheryl Baker introduced the concept. It was later adapted by organizational psychologist Adam Grant as part of his work on generosity, as documented in his brilliant book, Give and Take. Here’s the concept in simplistic terms: I help you and you help someone else, and maybe that person will end up helping me (or someone else) sometime in the future. This loop makes asking for and offering help easy and effective.

To make the reciprocity ring practical and results-oriented, the approach is for participants to get together in groups and share their requests with one another. Asks should be something important that a person cannot obtain or attain on their own–for example, a key contact with a specific skill to help with an upcoming project or task. Participants then make contributions by matching up a solution, using their knowledge, offering up resources and ideas, or connecting them with a key contact.

The Bakers, along with Grant, created a technology platform called Givitas to facilitate the reciprocity ring in any organization and integrate it into a company’s people practice.

The reciprocity ring changes the way we see helping and problem-solving. The research found that when reciprocity is widespread in organizations, it builds community, improves productivity, promotes learning, and builds a climate of trust. And it starts with making the ask.

When the most successful people want something, they’re willing to ask for it. If a 12-year-old Steve Jobs could do it, so can you.

Reference: https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/nearly-30-years-ago-steve-jobs-said-theres-1-simple-habit-that-separates-doers-from-dreamers.html

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