People say they are generous, but most are not. Donations are not necessarily the same as being generous. I donate our household items to Goodwill that we no longer need. I make sure I keep the receipt so that I can receive a tax deduction for my donation.
There is nothing generous about donating my neglected things. Generosity costs us something. I know a very few select people that I would call generous. Let me describe what I believe generosity looks like.
I shared a bowl of rice with Seth Godin. He prepared the rice in his rice cooker for 60 people attending his workshop. He could have ordered take-out. He could have left for lunch to get some time away from the crowd. Instead, he stayed and played the host as he served his new friends a healthy meal. He turned the meeting room into his living room as if we were all dinner guests invited into his home.
Why was this generous? Yes, it cost him some of his time and money, but mostly it cost him the human act of warmly serving another, “You first.” Generosity requires a human connection, eyeball to eyeball, life on life. I wish you could have been there.
Billionaires and Hammers
A friend of mine gave a few hundred thousand dollars to sponsor the tuition for 300 men to attend a retreat in Volcano National Park. He wanted to remove finances from the list of reasons why guys might not attend. He was generous so the guy swinging a hammer for a living didn’t have to say, “I can’t afford it.”
That same friend spends every day with billionaires. He is a witness to the gap between the upper 1% and a construction worker. Knowing how lopsided the world can be, his generosity leveled the playing field for the weekend. Generosity was the price of admission for every blue collar, hammer-swinging, neglected, forgotten, disrespected, honorable man that sat in that auditorium.
It worked. 300 guys attended and less than 15 of them paid for their ticket. “Let every guy know his ticket wasn’t free. It was paid for by someone.” Paid in full, it cost him something, but he gave it freely without a requirement for something in return.
I wish you could have been there to see their smiles.
Be generous and you will become wealthy.
This post is an excerpt from the Field Guide: 99 Ways to Navigate Your Best Life. Download the full guide here.