To Be Otherish

I wrote a guest blog recently for Exact Target on the topic of organizational authenticity. It elicited an anonymous comment that attacked my authenticity. Specifically this commenter, who is either an acquaintance of mine or done a great deal of research, accused me of hypocrisy- saying one thing and doing another. The comment stung a little since I can certainly be hypocritical at times. But it also pushed me to think a little about intentions and motivations. In many ways the commenter accused me of conspiring, through my speaking and writing, to create customers for what my company was selling.

On the surface I don't have a problem with this: the foundation of a healthy business is alignment between what you believe and what you sell. But there is another level to it. Is what you are selling improving the lives of others or only yourself? 

In Adam Grant's awesome book "Give and Take" he talks about the concept of being "otherish". I wasn't familiar with this word before. Otherish means to align the needs of others with your own needs. It's a blend of selfish and selfless. If we are only selfish we build a hollow life that collapses under the weight of our needs and wants. If we only focus on others then we lose our sense of self. Being otherish serves both masters. 

The truth is, pure intentions rarely exist in human form. But should we stop ourselves from doing great things because we aren't 100% altruistic in our intentions? No, instead we should strive to be otherish and serve others as we serve ourselves.