Finish line: Attitude of gratitude

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Political journalist Jonathan Swan, in his farewell Q&A with our Axios staff, said the best advice he ever received was that you get everything back – and more – if you give it away.

  • Swan, a rare media star whose generosity increased in proportion to his celebrity, spoke about sharing sources, bylines and reporting tips.

Why is this important: The older I get, the more certain I am that this applies to all aspects of life, especially work. The more you give and serve others, the more You enjoy and move on.

It cuts against popular tales of the “big man” – the bold but often indifferent entrepreneur or the billionaire glass breaker.

  • There is often an assumption you need a cutthroat edge or uncompromising surrender to do great things fast.

Reality check: I am not to suggest that great success comes from being gentle or simply generous. But everyone should aspire to be both great And generous – the twin wins.

When I think of our most talented and generous colleagues – editor Sara Kehaulani Goo, or media trends expert Sara Fischer, or Mia Vallo, our head of marketing and growth – they tend to be exceptionally ambitious, workaholics and hyper-competitive.

  • But they give to others what was given to them. And they don’t assume they’re spectacularly special just because they’re spectacularly talented.

A few ways to put this into practice:

  1. Pay it forward. Seek daily opportunities to share your wisdom, secrets and tips. It is ridiculous to assume that this puts you at a disadvantage. It makes people applaud you.
  2. Go beyond. There’s a 99.9% chance you’re not Thomas Edison or Mother Teresa. Stop thinking that you are better than others because your specific skills have brought you success. Flip the script: be grateful for your breaks. Enjoy success and share it with others with reckless abandon.
  3. The little things matter. Few people inspire others with heroic words or deeds. But little things for you… are big things for others. A coffee with a new colleague. A note of encouragement. Current advice. A slight correction or instruction. A simple thank you.
  4. Be intentional. Thank, respect, and serve people in your organization who are newer than you. We naturally suck. But today’s intern could be tomorrow’s boss.
  5. Pass it. Talk to others about how gratitude helps them move forward. If you see an opportunity to gently subdue an ego gone wild, seize it.

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