I am passionate about the potential that every day people have to give. I believe that we often underestimate the ability we have to influence the world for the better through our giving. In his excellent book, Give and Take, Adam Grant shows that success doesn’t come at the expense of others and in fact, the most successful leaders are generous with their time, knowledge, energy and skills. He notes there are three exchanges in the workplace – people can either act as givers, takers or matchers. Let’s explore these exchanges:
Takers – these people are only interested in what they can get personally from others.
Matchers – these people, in the vain of reciprocity, will ensure there is a balance between giving and taking.
Givers – these people just focus on giving and are tuned into how they can be of help to others without the explicit interest of getting something back in return. Of course, they do set some boundaries around their giving too as to not burnout either.
Let’s explore the ways we can give back….
Time can be our most precious resource and it is also one of the simplest resources we can give. Giving our time to our family, our team and colleagues or to a worthy cause can be a brilliant gift. Often in our western culture, our time is so much more valuable than any ‘thing’ we can give. Looking for ideas? You might not need to look very far, your local primary school, aged care home, dog refuge or local charity might be looking for an extra pair of hands. If you’re in need of some ideas, check out your local Volunteering website.
Donate to your favourite cause. Interestingly a philanthropist is not defined by how much money you give but one who invests careful consideration and effort into a donation (or time, money, networks or skills) to a cause that promotes humanity. You can do this individually and/or as a family. For example, the adults in my family have a Christmas ritual instead of giving presents to each other, we pool some funds and donate it to a charity that we believe in. It’s wonderful when, as part of this process, you can share with your family the causes that are meaningful to you, talk about the experience of giving and share in the outcomes of your giving.
There are a number of ways you can give your expertise to others. You can write and blog about your experiences, you can volunteer to speak, you can mentor people you see potential in or you can become a board director for a community organsiation. Your area of expertise can be extremely valuable and not just your traditional skillsets such as legal and accounting but there are so many emerging skillsets that are so valuable on a community board these days. Consider what organisations could be over the moon happy to tap into your expertise and consider donating a couple of hours a week for a year to share your expertise.
Declutter the house and the pantry and give your unwanted clothes, appliances and food cans. This has the dual benefit of clearing your house as well as giving much needed resources to those in need. In the throw away society that we live in, we can forget how much some of these items that we taken for granted can mean to others. Do an audit in your house and consider what don’t you need anymore and who could you give this to. There is an excellent website called givit where you can connect with who needs what and pledge to give it to a person in need.
We all have a voice to highlight causes that are meaningful to us. Use your voice to promote good causes. You can write for your workplace newsletter or personal blog, share a cause to your networks on social media and go one step further by actively engaging your networks to support a cause. This might by organising a table to a Gala event, for example. You could organise a morning tea with your friends to connect and raise an issue that is close to your hand. Consider the avenues that you can share your voice and actively use it!
According to Adam Grant’s book, be a giver and give without expectation. It might just impact your leadership!
Now over to you: How are you giving back and also giving forward? Join the conversation here.