Over the course of my career, I've spent a lot of time with sales experts, business coaches, and leaders. Their goal is more or less the same: Grow. Grow your client base, grow your revenue, grow your impact. Some have claimed to have the winning recipe for that growth -- never mind your industry or niche. I never could pin it down it, though. 

And then I figured it out. That's not to say I now have the secret to landing millions in sales or vaulting business through the stratosphere, but I observed a commonality among those who consistently grew; I just didn't see it at first because I was hyper-focused on the goal and not the journey.

In a nutshell:

Every one of the successful business people I met over the past 15 years applied the give-get rule in their relationships.

The principle is simple. Incredibly simple. It goes like this: Whenever someone asks you for something, be willing to give it. But be sure you get something in return.

This sounds a bit greedy at first blush, I confess, until you reframe it slightly. A relationship is always a give-take, push-pull. It's engagement that makes it flourish. Giving-getting isn't just about money. It can be anything, really -- information, feedback, advice, emotional openness. It's not just the tangibles that matter here. And you don't always have to ask for a "get" to get one (sometimes it comes freely). You do, however, have to see each interaction as balance of giving and getting.

So as you engage others, ask yourself, "What am I giving and what am I getting?"

The most fruitful relationships are ones in which the give-get is balanced. Each person or group gives as much as they get. The action of both giving and getting is what ensures growth takes place -- we learn a little more, share a little more, build stronger bonds, acquire more knowledge and wisdom.

You may say: The noble thing would be to give without expectation of getting. And to some extent, you're right. But this is often used when talking about things of physical or monetary value. In relationships, give-get is how connection is built. It's how communities thrive. And it's how progress is made.

I don't have a magic formula for closing more deals, building a customer base, or boosting revenue. These are specific to each business. But I do know that growth starts with a give-get. If that's not top of mind, you'll either be living in perpetual imbalance (and stagnate or fall backward), or you'll find momentary wins that quickly slip away.

Want consistent relationship, business, and personal growth? Give as much as you get. Get as much as you give.