One of my key values in life is generosity. I believe in being open-hearted and giving.
Giving of myself – being loving and kind.
Giving of my knowledge – teaching and guiding others.
Giving of my time – being fully present with people.
Giving of my resources – donating and sharing.
Giving of my humanity – being empathetic and offering friendship.
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Occasionally I’ve questioned the value of generosity that I hold so dear – mostly after I’ve felt that somebody has abused my generosity or kindness. I’m facing that dynamic at the moment, having encountered some people at a different stage in their life’s journey, and where generosity of spirit doesn’t seem to mean much.
In those moments, for me the key lesson is to continue giving willingly and without expectation, and to remind myself that the joy and beauty is always in the unconditional giving.
Generosity has served me well thus far, therefore, I’m certain it will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
In stepping back from this current situation, I’ve been reflecting on the life and business benefits of generosity. And they are plentiful.
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I’m a believer in creating ‘Brand Love’. To be successful in business, we MUST create emotional connections with our community; we must stand apart from our competitors; we must get noticed (for all the right reasons). Our community MUST feel our generosity towards them as well as our love and respect for them.
In my mind, the only way to do that is to give, give and give some more. Give our expertise, our knowledge, our time (albeit carefully managed), our encouragement, our personality, our frailties (own up and correct our mistakes, after all we’re all human), our professionalism. All that leads to an outstanding customer promise, which, over time when done consistently, results in Brand Love. The businesses that are loved have cheerleaders who support and encourage their long term success. Starbucks has a worldwide army of cheerleaders, and of course, so does Apple. What business brands do you love?
When we give without expectation of receiving, so much more comes back in return, and often in ways we may never have expected (and when we least expect it). I experience this phenomenon almost daily. It’s thrilling. It’s heart warming. It causes me to want to be even more generous in all parts of my life.
Have you heard the saying that: “Reputation is what people say about us when we’re not in the room”? A generous person is spoken highly of by others when they’re not around. After my mother passed unexpectedly in October 2014, the adoration that poured out for her was unparalleled. During her lifetime, she gave love and she taught people to love unconditionally. That was her lasting legacy; her reputation; her generosity.
Equally, the reputations of the unkind and mean spirited catch up with them. Others vent their frustration, and they gossip. Reputations get damaged, and at times, shattered. At the end of the day, reputation is all we have in business and life, isn’t it? Is it worth being mean spirited, unkind and cold-hearted? Personally, I think not.
Perhaps the biggest win of all is being able to look oneself in the mirror and enjoy the lightness of the heart and soul that reflects brightly back. Now, in my book, that’s a good enough reason to value and practice generosity.