Just saw this piece in the NYT: "Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?" This graf gets at the main idea:
Organizational psychology has long concerned itself with how to design work so that people will enjoy it and want to keep doing it. Traditionally the thinking has been that employers should appeal to workers’ more obvious forms of self-interest: financial incentives, yes, but also work that is inherently interesting or offers the possibility for career advancement. [Adam] Grant’s research, which has generated broad interest in the study of relationships at work and will be published for the first time for a popular audience in his new book, “Give and Take,” starts with a premise that turns the thinking behind those theories on its head. The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other peoples’ lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.
It brought one of my favorite Analects passages to mind, 6.29 (Hinton):
Adept Kung said: "How would you describe a person who sows all the people with blessings and assists everyone in the land? Could such a person be called Humane?"
"What does this have to do with Humanity [ren] " replied the Master. "If you must have a name, call this person a sage. for even the enlightened Emperors Yao and Shun would seem lacking by comparison. As for Humanity: if you want to make a stand, help others make a stand, and if you want to reach your goal, help others reach their goal. Consider yourself and treat others accordingly: this is the method of Humanity.
To be truly Humane - 仁 - we need to work to help others reach their goals. We can't just "assist others." We have to assist them to advance in their lives.
And to think of it: it only took about 2,500 years for organizational psychology to confirm that....