Love to give…

“Do something for those who have need of a man’s help – Something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.”

Albert Schweitzer

What are the things you enjoy doing so much that you would do them for free? How many of these things add value and joy to others in addition to providing you with satisfaction?

How can you do more of these in your life? The intersection of giving to others and creating joy in yourself is our ultimate calling. It isn’t about making more money or having a nicer house. The true privilege in life is giving yourself away.

Generosity begets generosity…

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

Jackie Robinson

How would the impact of your life change if were to measure your success based on answering these two questions every single day? Ask and answer question #1 first thing in the morning and question #2 just before bed every night.

#1 – How will I impact the life of another person intentionally and positively today?

#2 – How did I specifically add value to the life of another person today?

‘“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”’ Luke 6:38 MSG

Who knows, perhaps the life you impact the most will be your own…

The cascade effect…

“I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way, but if I have changed even one life for the better, I haven’t lived in vain.”

Muhammad Ali 

Have you ever made a list of all of those who have impacted you in a positive way throughout your life? We become the people we are through the sharing of experiences and and because of the influence that others have on our journey. Who are those people that have changed your life? Are they even aware of the impact they have had on you?

As I mentally run through the list of all the people that have had some type of positive directional influence in my life I am struck by how significant and powerful some of these individuals have been. The really interesting thing is that the people and events that come immediately to mind aren’t examples where someone was TRYING to change my life, or the lives of others, they were simply being themselves, and living outwardly in a manner that positively impacted and influenced the person I was to become.

I found it interesting to run through the list of people by season or stage of life. What is very intriguing is that there is a consistent theme of behaviors and attributes that stand out. Those that has the most significant impact all had similar traits and and practices that then served to help me form my own beliefs and practices.

The lesson in all this for me today is that we have a powerful opportunity to add value to others simply by showing up as our authentic and real selves. It is isn’t about TRYING to add value, it is about living life in a manner that is serving others. If you do this, and live this way consistently, you WILL change the lives of others. You might not ever know how, and the person who’s life you impact might not even realize it till years later, but the cascade effect of living your values and beliefs outwardly will change lives, starting with your own…

Grateful for the gift…

“Dedicate some of your life to others. Your dedication will not be a sacrifice. It will be an exhilarating experience because it is an intense effort applied toward a meaningful end.”

Dr. Thomas Dooley

Today a dear friend called me to simply say hello and check in on me and the family. I can’t adequately convey the emotional value of this very human touch. It was an experience that totally made my day.

That this particular person reached out doesn’t surprise me at all, it is so much a part of his giving nature and true servant leader ethos. In many ways over the years I have looked to him as a tremendous mentor and the model of a person that I would very much like to be one day.

Reflecting on today’s quote with him in mind I would daresay that over the years he has dedicated a great portion of his life to others. I for one was very glad to be a recipient of that gift today.

Who are you going to give a piece of your life to?

Serve…

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself….  Serve and thou shall be served.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is interesting to observe how one feels when you help and serve another person. It begs the question of who is the real beneficiary of the service?

When you give yourself away, with no expectation of a return, no desire for anything back, you receive everything that truly matters. Who are you going to serve in this way today?


Living for others…

“Don’t just count your blessings. Be the blessing other people count on.”

Anonymous

I had the amazing opportunity this past weekend to spend a couple days in Cuba and see a part of the world that is so different than the one that I live and work in each and every day. In a word it was INCREDIBLE, and not just because of the beauty and uniqueness of the place. What made it particularly impactful was the pride, friendliness and and authenticity of the people that we met.

Everyone we encountered wanted to share themselves and their country. I left so impressed with the people and our experiences. I left wanting to go again and do more for others who, while not having so many of the the things that we (and I) take for granted, lived life with great joy and pride. Cuba wasn’t just a county with really cool old cars, incredible architecture and landscapes. It was a country of people who have the same hopes, dreams, and desires that each of us have for our lives.

It really is amazing, when you see others who have a smile on their face, even when they have nothing compared to all the luxuries that we take for granted, it really puts things into perspective. We are so blessed. We have so many gifts and treasures that we can’t possibly count them all. I was reflecting on our trip during the flight home and I was thinking about the many blessings that I have been given in life. I realized how much more powerful it is to focus on being a blessing to another person instead of simply accounting for all that we have been given. Living your life as a blessing to and for others, not simply as an accountant for all the blessings we have received. That is truly living…

Chasing versus doing…

“Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character.”

William Arthur Ward

The first list is of things that many people spend their entire lives pursuing. These things, while nice, don’t fill the heart and soul with happiness. In fact, if that is all a person has, I can’t imagine a much emptier life.

The second list is how a person chooses to live. This list might never lead to any of the things in the first list but to me this represents a life worth living. This is a life worth pursuing. This is a life that when you reach the end, one can look back and say, “I lived well.”

You can spend your entire life chasing things. Or you can spend your life doing things. Things that truly matter. It’s your choice, choose wisely…

Giving happiness…

“The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.”

Robert Baden-Powell

When you go home at the end of the day what makes you sleep better; having helped someone else find happiness or focusing on the creation of your own happiness?

I for one have found that helping someone else is what creates the happiness reward for me. It is amazing how doing for others can have such incredible personal returns when you put serving at the top of your priority list.

Who did you help find happiness today?

The gift that keeps on giving…

“The greatest gift of leadership is a boss who wants you to be successful.”

Jon Taffer

The dictionary defines “gift” as “something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.”

Or

“As something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned.”

How do you wrap this present for those that you serve? How do you ensure that you put your leadership effort and energy INTO others, not for your sake, not for your own selfish needs, but truly into others. Because that is the definition of being a good boss, a good leader. You have to be a person that gives this gift voluntarily.

Is this a gift you give as willingly as you receive it? How can you tell when you are blessed with the gift of having a boss who truly wants you to be successful? Do you model these behaviors back to those that you lead? If you don’t have a boss like this, do you model the behaviors you want anyway?

Get out a sheet of paper. Write down three specific ways or behaviors that this leadership gift would manifest if you were to receive it from a boss. Then draw a line across the page. Under that line write down three specific ways or behaviors that would send you the opposite message. These are the things that you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of from your boss. The top of the page is your leadership gift “to do” list. The bottom of the page is your “never do” list.

Study this list regularly and hold yourself accountable to actively and intentionally doing the top of the page items. Ensure that you do the first three things regardless of whether or not you receive them. Guard against the bottom three items in your own leadership of others.

Be the greatest leadership gift another person can ever receive. Be the leader that helps someone be successful. It can truly be the gift that keeps on giving…

Prepare yourself in order to give…

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

Eleanor Brown

How often do you take the time to rest and recharge? I find that it is harder to do than ever before. The demands on our time, both to serve others and to serve ourselves, is constant. We all need rest, but knowing we need it, and actually doing it are very different things.

How is it that you define rest? What is it that gives you peace on your heart and in your soul that then translates to rest physically? The answer to these questions will be unique for each of us and they will likely be different at times depending on what is going on in your life and what kind of nourishment you need.

For me, rest can be as simple as dedicated time in the morning on Sunday’s with my journal and a cup of coffee (or two…) and just reading, writing and reflecting on what is truly important in life. Rest for me also means disconnecting from the electronic leash and getting out to experience God’s Kingdom. Recently my bride and I were in Colorado and we did a 12-mile backcountry hike into the Rocky Mountain National Park. That was a day of great rest for me personally though I am sure that for others the idea of doing something like that is anything but restful. You have to find your restful place.

North Fork Big Thompson River

To care for others, you must also care for yourself. You must define the rest you need, find the time for it, and make it happen. When you do, you will find that instead of seeing service to others as an energy drain, you will view it as a gift to give. It is a gift that we have an obligation and a calling to pursue. Take the time you need to optimize you abilities to give and serve…

Why I started this journey…

“If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better.”

Will Smith

Warning, this is a much longer post than my normal writings…  Someone recently asked me, “why do you send out a daily leadership quote?  What are you trying to accomplish?” It’s a good question and one that has a very simple beginning.  In 1998 I was the third shift manager for a financial services call center.  Third shift was tough and most of the team members were generally working third because it paid the most or because they had another job as well to make ends meet.  I started sending out a quote at the beginning of each shift as a reminder and motivator about what was truly important in life beyond the day or activities that were right in front of us.  The daily quote was just for my small crew at first but over time it grew and then became part of my daily leadership habit even when I changed roles and then changed companies.  

For several years I only sent the quote on Monday – Friday or when I was in the office, but then I finally realized that value of listening to good wisdom applies every day of the week and that I was shortchanging those that I worked for by not sending a daily quote just because I happened to be off work on a given day.  

Today I don’t know the size of the audience, the list is much broader than it once was as people have asked to be added and folks they have shared it with have requested to be added.  The size of the list is not important to me.  What is important goes back to the back to the questions that were asked of me, “why do you send a daily leadership quote?  What are you trying to accomplish?”

The “why” hasn’t changed much from what it was twenty years ago.  There are two principle reasons I have maintained (and now expanded with this blog) the daily habit.  

First, to have a daily reminder about the importance of leadership and personal growth and the effect that reading such wisdom has on framing our behavior within the day.  Over the years many people have responded to the quotes and said words to the effect “you have no idea how much I needed to hear this right now” or “wow, this was absolutely meant for me today.”  I will never know how many people have been impacted or touched in the slightest way because of these daily messages.  That’s absolutely okay.  If one person has ever had their life made slightly brighter or even the tiniest bit better from this effort it has all been worth it.  That’s why I do it.  The chance, just the smallest chance to help another person in a tiny way is what motivates me to find and send a quote out every morning.  

Second, I want to frame my day with a positive or thoughtful piece of wisdom.  Some days the quotes are aimed at me and me alone.  On these days I always laugh to myself when people respond and mention that I must have been sending that one for their specific benefit. I will admit, on some days they are aimed at people who I know are challenged and need to hear specific and relevant message.

“What” am I am hoping to accomplish?  I hope that others will find value in the words and that at times they will be just the right thing a person needs to hear.  I don’t need to know this, nor do I need to be told.  I am very content knowing that it does happen and that I am being used by God to serve others in a very tiny way.  

So, all of these words to say this.  I choose to send a daily quote, and now blog daily, for the chance, the slightest chance that the words will be valuable to another person.  That someone might find value and wisdom, and from that, create a better life.  Does it happen?  I have no idea, but it could happen, and that is good enough for me.  

 

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