Things you can learn from shopping for running pants


My teenage daughter is into running. She's been wearing her Target leggings for a while but recently she decided that she'd like a pair of *proper* running pants. She talked me into driving her an hour and ten minutes to the big shopping centre so she could get some good ones, and, being a gorgeous and nice mother, I decided to take her.

"I'll go to Lorna Jane," she said. "They have good things there."

I don't know much about Lorna Jane except that it's the up and coming sports wear brand for trendy young women. Oh, and it's a bit pricey, but hey, teenage daughters who have jobs can pay for their own super-duper running pants, right?

We went in. The clothes were pretty cute and we looked around for Just the Right Running Pants. I pointed to a pair of hot pink three-quarter pants with what was obviously loud admiration (yes, I'd wear such things, and pretend I run) because the helpful shop assistant lady spoke to me.

"They're great, aren't they? And even better, she's done them so they're reversible."

A tiny bell went off in my brain. She? Who is she?

The helpful shop assistant lady went on to tell us of the specials. "Today only, she's got all these particular t-shirts for only $45."


I lifted my eyes to the wall of the shop and then, suddenly, I understood. Lorna Jane is not just the name of a shop or a label. Lorna Jane is an actual person! And you know how I knew? Her photograph was plastered on the wall behind the counter; a tasteful, black and white, three-metre spread.

The shop assistant didn't get to say, "We have pink pants,". She had to say, "She has pink pants." She didn't get to say, "We've got a special on." She ha to say, "She's got a special on."


I'll be very interested to see what happens to the Lorna Jane company in the future. And the reason is this: In Give and Take, the book I've been reading this week, organisational psychologist Adam Grant argues that, contrary to what you might expect, in business, people who are 'givers' rather than 'takers' do much better in the long run. 

Generosity, supporting your team and an attitude of altruism, even when you don't get anything back right then pays off long term in every single profession. Study after study shows that givers succeed more and achieve more in the long term. 

But how do you tell if someone is a giver or a taker? Grant says there are a few things to look out for. 

One is compensation. Taker CEOs tend to earn far more money than other senior executives in their companies. 

Another is language. Grant explains it like this: "Since takers tend to be self-absorbed, they are more likely to use first person singular pronouns like I, me, mine, my and myself - versus first person plural pronouns like we, us, ours, and ourselves.

A third is (and I'm not making this up) how big their pictures are in their publicity material. Grant says: "For the taker CEOs, it was all about me. A big photo is self-glorifying, sending a clear message: "I am the central figure in this company."

Perhaps Lorna Jane is not a taker. She may be extremely generous. I just find it extremely interesting that she won't include her staff in her team by instructing them to use the word 'she' instead of the word 'we'. 

Give and Take is such an interesting read if you're into leadership stuff. (Yes, okay, I admit I love a good psychological leadership book.)

What I love is that it completely justifies the biblical principles of generosity,l going the extra mile, sharing and honouring others. Grant's book shows that these things aren't just for dummies who have to go all counter-cultural and doormat-ish if they follow God. In fact, they bring more success than the regular ideas of pushing ahead over others or getting favour for favour.

(The book is also well-written, so it's definitely worth a look.)

Will I shop at Lorna Jane again? Would I go back for the pink pants? On thinking about it, no, I probably wouldn't. The fact that LJ didn't want to include her employees in the team with their use of language put me off.  It didn't seem to fit with the last two words of her slogan, Move, Nourish, Believe.

photo credit: Francois Peeters via photopin cc