When the weekly Brain Pickings newsletter landed in my inbox, I clicked on their link that took me to an excellent summary of the book: Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant, Ph.D. I have not yet read the book, however I found the review intriguing.
According to the review, the book breaks people out into three interaction or reciprocity styles (Givers, Takers and Matchers) and how each one leads to varying degrees of success. What grabbed my attention was this quote about givers:
… But there’s something distinctive that happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades … Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them. You’ll see that the difference lies in how giver success creates value, instead of just claiming it.
Givers are the type of people who use their own gifts and talents to “amplify the smarts and capabilities of others,” like Liz Wiseman’s Multipliers. In the workplace, givers share their ideas, knowledge, information, time and energy. They are neither doormats nor do they give for strategic purposes. I know many people for whom this is natural.
However, each one of us can be a giver. It’s a choice.
A little story. I met Sam (not his real name) less than a year ago by a chance encounter, and he is most definitely a giver who contributes to the lives of many, without strings. He shares his experience and hard-earned wisdom, generously. Through his mentoring, we have learned to expand our ability to see more broadly and with finer distinctions. He’s taught us a language to articulate what we see that provides clarity. As a result, we have become more skilled at our craft, and our clients and relations are beneficiaries.
Sam brings out my best and my desire to pay it forward. Meeting Sam has changed the course of my life.
We may never know the ripple effect our acts of generosity, kindness, caring, listening, support, and sharing of ourselves–have on another. When we give each other a hand up, it’s a win-win.
We feel good, we help someone else, others are happy for our success (according to the article, people tend to be happy for the success of givers), and it has a multiplying effect.
Can you remember that special adult who made a difference in your life? The teacher who believed in you and your talents? The boss who shared her earlier career mistakes so you would know you were not alone? The important stranger who said a kind word just when you most needed it?
The thing is, regardless of whether we are a giver, taker or matcher, what we say and do has a ripple-on effect.
What a profound responsibility that is.
With each action we take, each sentence we utter or write, each tweet, FB or G+ post, we make a difference to someone, somewhere.
Each of us has the possibility to forward and change the course of humanity for the better … We can leave a legacy that lives on in the hearts and minds of others, well beyond the death of our physical form.
Recently, I watched an interview of a physician on one of the major news networks in the US, who shared the story of her near death experience. While unconscious, she went through a life review and saw the ripple-on effect of her words and deeds. She was able to witness at least 35 layers beyond the person immediately affected.
What if that’s true? It begs the question, “what are the ripples you intend to spread, even if you never know how what you do, matters?”
Please join the conversation. Who has given generously and made a difference in your life? What was the effect on you and others?
(For a terrific article that delves into the book, check out Kare Anderson’s review in Forbes)
If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you know I commune with the natural world regularly for solace, inspiration, clarity, deeper contact with myself, to integrate experiences, to source meaning …
I meander and let my intuition do the walking. On a recent outing, I chose not to let my mind wander but to continue to bring it back to the here and now. What was before me was too spectacular, beautiful, inspiring to miss. More than that, I wanted now. I didn’t want to miss out on my life while I occupied my head.
Do you want to know a little secret? All we have is now.
We hardly experience here while wanting to be there. We are always on our way to something more, something better, someplace else.
Most of us are in the present-past or the present-future, but we rarely occupy the now. Why not?
How much of life do we miss while we ride the rails of our habituated patterns of thinking and feeling, over and over? How well do we know ourselves when we endlessly distract and stay stuck in these well worn feelings and thoughts?
These thoughts and feelings are not ours to have.
They simply are.
Seemingly from out of nowhere, I Choose Now became my mantra. Each time I found my mind wandering, I brought my attention back to what was right in front of me with the words, I Choose Now.
I let go of whatever thought or feeling tried to occupy me. With each repetition of the phrase I inhaled the beauty around me. I allowed the miracle that is our natural world to touch me. It was excruciating … and sublime.
This poem continues to inspire me as I journey through life. It’s meaning still unfolding.
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
~ David Wagoner ~
Rays of sunshine burst through clouds and sweep across citrus orchards and olive groves
Thousands of seagulls circle in tornado formation and squawk in revelry
Sunlight reflects off grey-green olive and blue-green carob trees leaves
Orbs of yellow and gold citrus framed against blue sky
Donkeys bay, roosters crow, lambs baaah, bird songs all echo across the valley
Ecstatic joy brings tears to my eyes – allow the joy. Don’t try to hold on, don’t shut it out.
And when you relax and accept here; when you stop beating up on yourself for not being someplace that you’re not, embrace where you are and keep your eye on where you’re going – that’s where the magic of life happens. That’s where “you happen” as you create yourself in every moment.
I choose now
Last night I went to a dinner party and a friend commented, “you look 10 years younger!” Gee, why did I wait so long to take a vacation. Frankly, it was a bit disturbing to think about what I must have looked like before I left!
For those of you who read my last post about the importance of unplugging to recharge, you’ll be happy to know that I unplugged. Mostly. As a business owner, the prospect of doing this was daunting. But I did. Here’s what happened and here’s what I learned. Take note, for those of you haven’t yet risked it.
We prepared. My social media team was in place and ready to post and promote my pre-written blogs, to send out my pre-written newsletter and to continue to send out my pre-written tweets. We changed my Facebook page photo to show that I was unplugged. Clients and colleagues were notified, and I initiated a gone fishin’ email notification auto-responder for folks that sent me emails. I was ready!
How did it go?
- WiFi access was often non-existent and spotty at best, so that really helped
- With each passing day, the pull of the internet slowly subsided from a continual drum beat to a soft murmur vying for my attention
- I did use my iPhone to check emails for anything urgent and only sent out one email response for something that was time sensitive
- My traveling companion, one of the least plugged-in people I know, requested at the last minute that I bring my computer along. She was in charge of booking our lodging and wanted to book the B&B’s while en route. Ugh, another temptation.
- My traveling companion wanted to get access to email frequently throughout our trip and look for internet hotspots. It took extra discipline not to succumb.
- I found myself concerned about how my Twitter connections would respond to my lack of interaction.
- I loved being unplugged and wish I could have, with confidence, let the email go too.
What were the results?
- My Twitter followers were still there and still retweeting and sending me direct messages, despite my absence and lack of response
- I was able to be fully present in my experience and delight in my travels
- I had much needed time for reflection and was able to make space for inner focus
- I really did return recharged
- I have still not caught up with all of my email and work that piled up while I was gone, but am chipping away daily.
With time to reflect on and integrate all that had transpired over the last several months–I walked away with some pearls — areas for my growth and development as a leader and that are good reminders for all of us.
My seven leadership pearls of wisdom
- Find that still point inside even though there are waves crashing around you
- Maintain your own rhythm when others travel to the beat of a different drum
- Remember that everything and everyone is a mirror to reflect aspects of yourself to you
- Prepare, then trust your team and let go
- Make sure to take your time off–and enough time to renew and replenish!
- Be present to your experiences and the world around you
- Let joy be your wellspring of energy and connection
My self-work continues … practice:
Maintain contact with that still point inside no matter what is happening around me
Keep playing my own rhythm while others play theirs’
I ask my clients to be courageous in the face of prevailing thinking; to have the courage of their convictions and do what they believe is best. Nothing I am saying here hasn’t already been said. What’s new is that I am saying it publicly and putting my voice out there despite my own fears.
Transparency has become the new “it” word.
When I used the word transparency with my client a few years ago they asked me to explain what it meant in a business context. No longer. Whether we like it or not, in the world of web 2.0, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, smartphones with cameras, iPads, satellites, drones–the world is watching. Our personal privacy is at risk, but there are some important societal benefits.
The good news is that all of the gunk that has been lurking below the surface is now being revealed. Denial is no longer an option. Fukushima is revealing the catastrophic consequences of nuclear power–some of which is yet to be experienced. People ignored problems with the deep water well at BP, but it literally came to the surface. Murdoch and media phone hacking. How about those derivatives? Maddoff and his hedge fund? Let’s not forget an early red flag called Enron. Climate change? Has anyone noticed the massive, natural disasters of Biblical proportions that are pounding country after country? Yet unfolding–the financial situation in Greece, Spain … ? The CEO of HP was ousted for “violations of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct.” The list goes on. More gunk will be revealed. What is the red thread that sews all of this together?
From my vantage point, the red thread is our obsession with quarterly profits, short-term thinking and acting, we treat human beings as interchangeable objects, faster/cheaper/new (notice I left out better) and our perceived need to acquire and amass material wealth has got us to where we are today. Now what? How can we intervene in a global system and mindset that is intent on measuring economic health by Gross National and Domestic Product, by the speed of economic growth, productivity, by numbers of people who are employed full-time, by the size of profit margins and share prices … ?
This is not sustainable. Not only that, but it is not necessarily desirable. Are people happier and more content in their lives? Personally, all I hear is how stressed people are.
There are millions of people suffering all over the world who don’t even have basic needs met for food, shelter and fresh water, while many of us own the latest technology for relatively low prices built on the backs of cheap labor mostly from offshoring. There are people living round the clock on corporate campuses, abandoning their families in the hopes of earning money to support them. The social costs are tremendous. The thing is, we are all to blame and we have to move forward differently or the consequences will continue to be devastating.
I am not an economist, but I do know that the word economy literally means “household management.” If we see the Earth as our home, and our global population as our family, how are we managing our home and family?
Are our economic measures focused on managing our house or just our budget and material and wealth accumulation? Can we change what we measure to include all aspects of household management?
Behavior shifts in the direction of what is measured
What if we took a long-term view? What if it was desirable to measure a decreasing gap between the lowest paid worker and the highest paid worker? What if we measured happiness — in Bhutan they measure Gross National Happiness–environmental health, peace, sense of community, human and animal health and well-being, people’s have basic needs for fresh and non-toxic foods and water, shelter, clothes, access to financial resources for the many and not the few, education, and love? What kind of world would we live in if these were our measures? Imagine.
Our ability to hide what we say and do has become more difficult. Transparency isn’t just the new “it” word,” it is our ” new world.”
What say you? What do you think we should measure to have a more sustainable and healthy world society? And do you think its possible?
I was not surprised to read a Reuters wire saying, “A review of more than 160 studies on the connection between a positive state of mind and overall health and longevity has found ‘clear and compelling evidence’ that happier people enjoy better health and longer lives.” Happiness also spreads–moods catch!
Seems like something we not only want for ourselves, but for the world. Yet how does one become or feel happy, content, joyful, elated? How can we cultivate this; sow the seeds of our own happiness?
One day in 1997, I found a way and I’d like to share that with you.
1997 was a challenging time in my life–one of those dark nights of the soul when happiness seemed elusive–color was sucked out of my world and was painted over in a coat of gray.
Without going into the story, let’s just say that it was quite a painful time, and the Earth no longer seemed solid underneath my feet. What I thought I could count on was no longer there, or so it seemed. During this time I began to meditate, and during one of my meditations I spontaneously began to give thanks; to give gratitude. I began to realize the solidity I thought was no longer underneath me, was actually inside of me. Thus began my practice of theGratitude Alphabet.
When I start my day with this practice, my internal well becomes full, and I feel such a sense of joy and good fortune. As my well fills, my capacity to give to others grows too. Giving makes me feel happy and the whole process begins to feed on itself. How does it work?
The practice is simple and it goes like this: For each letter of the alphabet, I think of at least one thing I am grateful for AND I speak it aloud, and say it as if it was true 100% of the time. Then I live into it. For example, A–I am grateful for the Abundance in my life, B–I am grateful for my inner and outer Beauty, for my Body that is carrying me through this life, for my beloved dog Bear, C–for my Courage and Compassion, D–for the spark of the Divine within me, E–for my Energy and Enthusiasm, F–for my Family who loves and cares about me, for my Friends who support me, for my Faith that grows and deepens everyday, G–for my Goodness, for my Groundedness and for the Gratitude I feel, H–for my Health, Humor, Humility, Home, Happiness, etc.
As I go through my Gratitude Alphabet, with each letter I feel my sense of gratitude growing and my joy increasing. Some days, when I am really low it is difficult to put much energy into my practice, but I manage and with each letter, I feel better and better. Then I begin living into that for which I am grateful.
And you? What are you most grateful for? How do you practice your gratitude?