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Most of us assume that people first achieve success and then start giving back. But what if the opposite is true? Could it be that giving first actually leads people to succeed later?

Generosity is Empowering

No matter what your goals or where you are in your progress towards them – there is something you can do right now to speed up your progress.  Start giving to others, contributing to their welfare, helping them achieve their goals.  Of course, your primary responsibility is to work to achieve your own career or personal goals and take care of yourself and your family, but the ‘secret sauce’ to your success may just be your generosity to others – and especially others who are in no position to pay you back.

There are many reason why your generous acts and contributions result in power and positive results for the giver – but, that’s another article, so for now, read the 6 TIPS TO SUCCESS THROUGH GIVING BACK, try them out for a week and see what happens.

But what if I’m struggling financially myself?   There is an old Arab proverb, If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart.”  Your time, a smile or a few encouraging words can go as far as a financial or material contribution.  No matter where you are in your financial or success journey – even if you are currently struggling – you have it in your power to contribute no matter how small the gesture might be.

As you can see below, a successful man taking time with a student made all the difference to the young man – had nothing to do with money.

Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, has done research that indicates that some of the world’s most successful people – in both business and other areas – fit the personality profile of consistent ‘givers’, people who sincerely try to help those around them.  He notes that most of us think that to achieve success, it’s necessary to get at least as much from other people as we contribute to them.  We’re afraid that if we’re too generous, others will take advantage of us, and we’ll end up running out of time and energy to work toward our own goals.

What if the opposite is true?

Here’s a story Professor Grant tells:  “I had just applied to Harvard, and I was assigned to an interview with a well-known lawyer who was extremely successful, with many awards and a roster of influential clients.  Our interview was scheduled to be 30 minutes, but he spent several hours with me, going far above and beyond the call of duty to learn about my values and passions. It was clear that he was genuinely concerned about helping every applicant put his or her best foot forward. I walked away with a clear sense that he had been operating this way all his life, and that it was part of what made him such a trustworthy colleague and committed advocate for clients. Later, this experience and many others like it led me to wonder whether we had it backward when we thought about the link between success and giving.”

Source: Scientific American, “The Secret to Success is Giving, Not Taking”, published April 2013.

Giving – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – and unto your loved ones.

Sometimes, when I see someone in need, I immediately picture that person as my mother, father, brother or sister.  How would I want them to be treated?  Are they discouraged or upset, can I do some small act that might make a difference in their day?

Oh, and by the way, it’s simply the right thing to do.  Almost every religion or philosophy on this planet has key principles regarding brotherhood and charity – treating each person as a brother or sister, taking care of children, elderly and the poor, and the principle of doing to others as you would have them do unto you.

PUTTING THE GIVING BACK/GENEROSITY MINDSET INTO PRACTICE

Tip 1:  Start giving today.  Don’t put this off until you make your first million – make a habit of it and it’s okay to start small.

Tip 2:  Every morning, ask yourself, “How can I share myself or help someone today?”  Then just get on with your day and see what or who the universe puts in your path.

  • Start simply and if you open your eyes and heart, you will begin to see that there are many opportunities to give and share yourself.
  • These can range from simple actions to a smile, a small gift of money or a cup of coffee to recommending someone for a job.

Tip 3:  Charity begins at home – “at home” includes immediate family, but also your neighbors, workplace and community.

My grandmother and mother always said “brighten the corner where you are.”  Aunt Earlene always said “bloom where you are planted”.   Whatever the saying, you won’t have to find some grand and faraway opportunity to contribute – just look around.

  • Does someone in your workplace or family need a kind word of encouragement?
  • Could the kid down the street use a new backpack?
  • How about holding the door open for someone struggling with a stroller, groceries or their dry cleaning?
  • Does an elderly neighbor need their sidewalk shoveled or mail brought in?
  • Could you send a get-well card to children’s or veteran’s hospital?
  • Can you offer to buy a hot drink for that kid who has been shoveling snow all day?

Tip 4:  Tithe.  The Christian Bible recommends that we tithe 10 percent of our gains or income.

  • If you cannot afford 10 percent, figure out a small amount that you can CONSISTENTLY put aside to donate to your church or a worthwhile charity – even if it’s just $1 a month.  Start the habit now and, as your income increases, be sure that you increase the amount.
  • If you really cannot afford any form of financial tithe, see if there is a way you can give an hour a week.

Tip 5:  Be generous and giving, but keep your own battery charged.

“Giving yourself some loving attention is not selfish. It is sensible. If you feel loved and cherished–even if it is only by yourself–then you will have more love to give to others, too.”
Penelope Quest, Reiki for Life: A Complete Guide to Reiki Practice

  • On an airplane, the flight attendants will tell you that, in case of an emergency, to put YOUR oxygen mask on before you put on your child’s or someone who needs help.   Same with the time and energy you need to get through your day and pursue your goals.
  • While generosity is important and beneficial to both the giver and receiver, be mindful that there is a difference in being generous with your spirit, your time and perhaps your money while maintaining the appropriate boundaries and not taking on responsibilities that are part of other people’s life journeys.

Tip 6:   For one week only, take a notebook and write down what happens when you live from a place of generosity

For the first week, try writing down each day’s opportunity to give or contribute and how you responded.   At the end of the week, take stock:

  • How do you feel about yourself?
  • How do you feel about life in general?

Of course, you can continue writing things down – but the first week will be particularly interesting to observe.

This becomes a beautiful and fun game – just sit back and see who shows up!   The great secret is that all the while you are playing this game and helping others, you are smoothing your own path to success.

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