Habits. This is the time of year when we all seem to be examining our habits. What habits do we want to eliminate for the new year? Smoking? Overeating? Angry outbursts? And what habits would we like to establish? Regular exercise? Flossing? Prayer? How do we want our days to look in 2015? Now is the perfect time to make some important decisions. Then we can manage those decisions in the new year.
I believe that there is one big decision that everyone needs to make and manage, especially if you’re a leader. This one habit can radically change your life and leadership, if you can practice it daily:
The habit of giving more than you receive
Unless you’re Ebenezer Scrooge, you’ve probably experienced at least a little of the joy of giving during the recent holiday celebrations. A giving spirit is pretty easy to have during Christmas. But what I’m describing is a habit of giving that extends to the rest of the year. Why should we regularly give more than we receive? Having a giving mind-set has so many benefits:
Giving Acknowledges That Others Have Helped Us
No one succeeds in life on his own. Every one of us has been helped along the way by other people. When we give to others, we acknowledge that by paying it forward.
Giving Requires Us to Get Beyond Ourselves
When your mind-set is to give more than you take, it forces you to think of others more than of yourself. You have to pay attention to others and what they want. You have to figure out how to give it to them. These things shift your focus from yourself to others. That very fact makes you less selfish.
Giving Is by Nature Intentional
People rarely give by accident. They must make an effort to give. It is an act of will. That intentionality grows us and makes us more proactive—important qualities for everyone, especially leaders.
Giving Changes the World—One Person at a Time
What would the world be like if everyone tried to give more than he or she took? People would change. It’s difficult for a healthy person to keep receiving from others without giving something back. Out of abundance comes generosity. Give generously to others without the hope of return, and the person receiving is changed and wants to pass it on. Once you have the mind-set of giving, the more you receive, the more you want to give. It becomes a positive cycle. As it spreads, not only do individuals change, but so do communities.
What does this have to do with leadership? How do you respond to people who give? How do you respond to generous leaders? Don’t their actions make you want to give back, work harder, do your best? I know that’s what they do for me. If you become a generous leader who always strives to give more than you receive, you will create a positive team and organization that others will always want to be a part of.
Three Questions to Ask Before You Can Effectively Give More
1. What have you been given? Look back on your life and think about what you’ve been given. Even people from the least advantaged backgrounds have positive experiences to draw upon.
2. What do you have? Look within to discover what talents, skills, and passions reside in you that you can pass along to others. You have worth. Others can benefit from your time and expertise.
3. What can you do? Chances are that there are things you can do for others right now. Look around you. What opportunities do you currently see to add value to others?
Making the decision to be a more giving person now can shape your days in a positive way in 2015. After all, even Scrooge recognized the value of a giving spirit, when he said near the end of A Christmas Carol,
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year!”
~ Adapted from Good Leaders Ask Great Questions (2014)
* If you want more of my thoughts on making important decisions once, then managing those decisions daily, I recommend that you read my book Today Matters. It’s a helpful resource, especially at this time of year.