Compassion as a Success Strategy

compassion as a success strategy
Alan Gottlieb, Compositive Staff

Positive emotions like compassion build both grit and grace. And people who do the best are the people willing to share credit and cooperate.

In today’s political environment, one might be excused for concluding that being successful means vanquishing your adversaries in a zero-sum, dog-eat-dog game. But that’s diametrically opposed to the concept put forward in a new book by Northeastern University Professor David DeSteno.

“Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride,” argues that positive emotions build both grit and grace.

“…there are a lot of emotions that make us willing to sacrifice, not only to help other people but to help our future selves and to work hard,” DeSteno says in an interview on the Knowledge@Wharton radio program on Sirius XM Channel 111.

“If you think about, where did self-control come from, where did the ability to delay gratification come from so that we could(set) long-term goals?” DeSteno said in the interview. “For millennia it really wasn’t about maxing out your 401(k) or completing the Whole 30 [diet]. Those things didn’t exist. What allowed you to be a success was to have good character—to be honest, to be fair, to pay back your debts, to be reliable.”

When people ask him whether they should “be a jerk or a nice guy” to be successful, DeSteno said he asks them, “What’s your time frame?”

In the short term, if you want to be a jerk, if you take credit for other people and exploit them, you’re going to rise pretty quickly. But it’s going to be very short-lived. All the models we know show that the people who do the best are the people willing to share credit, to cooperate. If you want balanced, long-term success, inculcating these emotions in your teams and in yourself not only will give you grit, but it will give you that social capital to help you succeed.”

Compositive believes that helping your children develop character traits that help build strong and healthy relationships is an essential component of a whole education.

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