In the first of a series of articles on the Seven Values (or Drivers) identified by Gordon Allport, I will be looking at Altruism. Future articles will look at the other six (Aesthetic, Economic, Individualistic, Political, Regulatory and Theoretical).
The Laws of Attraction, “give to receive”, “Yin & Yang”, we’ve all heard these terms over the years, and more recently it’s become one of the modern focus’ when looking at personal development. These principles were given a lot of momentum by the book “The Secret”. What does it mean though?
For a lot of people it may mean, “if I give you an apple then you’ll give me an apple when I need it”, or “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”. For a long time people would say this to me, and particularly after a painful personal experience that took place over 20 years ago, I waited for this to happen. I’m still waiting for the universe to equalise things for me but am no longer sat waiting for it to happen. This is a very simplistic way to look at it and the reality should be seen as very different.
I have always wanted to help people in my life, from volunteer work with young people to being a Policeman, Trainer, and Coach in various points of my life. Until about 5 years ago I just considered that to be a “generosity of spirit” or “kindness”. Some considered this to be soft, sensitive and emotional.
I am all of these but until I took the Innermetrix ADVanced Insights profile assessment I wasn’t aware what was really driving it. My giving nature has led to many instances of being taken advantage of in the past, not that I would change this as it is who I am. I finally got a label to it and was able to develop a far greater understanding of myself. What I am driven by is the Value of “Altruism”.
An Altruist is derived from philosopher and psychologist Eduard Sprangers research published in his 1914 book “Types of Men: the Psychology and Ethics of Personality”. He identified one dimension as “Social – The highest value for this type is love of people”. This work was developed in the 1950’s by US psychologist Gordon Allport, who classified Altruistic (Spranger’s Social) as “a drive for humanitarian efforts or to help others altruistically”.
Innermetrix goes on to define Altruism as: “The Altruistic person prizes other persons as ends, and is therefore kind, sympathetic, and unselfish. They are likely to find the theoretical or economic attitudes cold and inhuman. In contrast to the political type, the altruistic person regards love as itself the only suitable form of human relationship.”
This is certainly true in my case, I have a very high Altruistic score but a very low Economic for example. I derive my passion from helping others and believe that if I do a good job that things like the Economic will come. When I consider my Theoretical score I only see the need to learn more if it serves the person I am helping, rather than for the sake of it.
On a more practical front I have debriefed several hundred assessments and consistently what I see from those defined as Altruist by being a ‘top’ score is the desire to use their power, influence, time and expertise to help others. It is what drove me to become a Trainer & Coach after I realised how much I could help someone change their life and realise their passion.
History has seen many examples of Altruists. In more recent times we have seen Ghandi who gave up a successful career to help the poor and Mother Theresa who as a Nun became a missionary to help the sick and poor in India. In business today we hear of successful billionaire businessmen and women who are using their vast fortunes to help in various Altruistic endeavours (commonly referred to as philanthropy).
As with all psychometrics there is no right or wrong, but about developing an understanding of ourselves and others, and using that to make better use of our drive and passion. One of my greatest learnings from this is that ‘to give’ is who I am and nothing to do with doing things so others will reciprocate at some time. Not everyone is an Altruist, if they were our world today would look very different!