There are many Latin phrases that are prominent in our language and given the fact that a large part of my job (really any job for that matter) is grounded on relationship building and partnership strengthening, it comes as no surprise that I am hearing “Quid pro Quo” more than ever. I am not complaining, merely actively observing the world in which I live. As a refresher, here’s the definition:

Quid pro quo (“something for something” in Latin) means an exchange of goods or services, where one transfer is contingent upon the other.

I have never been one who keeps track of such exchanges and spending my entire adult life to date in the Navy has sheltered me from the business world where tangible exchanges of goods, services, or money is foundational. Instead, I continue to enjoy the luxury of focusing on serving (with) others and delivering value irrespective of compensation. Instead, we are compensated by the sense of satisfaction that comes with serving others and being a part of something that is far bigger than we are. Last week, we were running a little ahead of schedule to an event in downtown San Antonio, so we stopped at “The Alamo” to pay our respects. Because this was work related we were in uniform and given the season we were wearing our summer white uniform, which basically screams to the world, “Hey look at me!” Many people walked up to me to shake my hand and thank me for my service. Unlike decades ago when our service members were greeted very differently, we get this a lot and such gratitude never gets old. As usual, I merely responded with a “Thank you and serving is my pleasure.” Might sound cheesy, but it’s a genuine response and I have trouble being anything but that.

A feeling of service is not limited to people in uniform, as there are many from all walks of life who serve. Those who serve share a philosophy that doesn’t necessarily measure compensation, but when we choose to assess our compensation we measure it very differently. I like to think we identify as “Quids.”  We give without expecting a “Quo.”  Each time I hear this Latin phrase that communicates a transactional relationship, a “tit for tat”, and an expectation of something tangible in return, I find that it minimizes the partnership. If we feel compelled to keep score, why not focus entirely on the quids? Why not measure our value purely on what we give without regard to what we get? Over time, if we slip and start to keep a ledger, I am willing to bet that the credits will far outnumber the debits, especially when you account for the intangibles in life that represent the greatest value…relationships, happiness, and opportunities to say “you are welcome.”

There are plenty of takers in this world and there are many others who are careful to ensure their quids result in a quo. As for me and the people with whom I choose to spend my time with, we don’t fall into either category. We are “Quids!”

  • Do you give merely to receive?
  • What do you consider a Quo?
  • Are you a Quid?

 I’m a Quid!