“The world does not owe you a living. It was here first.” — Mark Twain. By ‘living’ I think this means more than just money in your pocket, although this too. Living is embracing the fullness of life and all its dimensions. But it’s not going to be handed to you.
Does this mean that in order to get what you want out of life you must grab it with both hands, preferably before someone else does? According to this world view there is limited supply of the good things in life and if you don’t take what you can when you can ,you’ll lose out, or worse — be a loser.
This is the beauty of giving though. When you take there is less to go around. When you give, you increase and expand what was there before and you receive as well.
A Chinese proverb goes like this:
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
If you have ever donated to a charitable cause, helped someone out in need, volunteered to make a contribution in some way, you know the positive “feel-good” you have as a result. This response to giving has actually been given a name. It is known as the “helper’s high”.
Allan Luks coined this term over twenty years after his research into volunteerism and wellness. In one of Luks’ studies he investigated the physical effects of giving experienced by more than 1,700 women who volunteered regularly. The studies demonstrated that a full 50 percent of helpers reported feeling “high” when they helped others, while 43 percent felt stronger and more energetic.
So there are benefits to you when you give but the purpose of giving is to give, that is, to make a positive difference in the world around you.
If we start with you, what do you have to give? What knowledge or talents can you share? What time do you have available? What resources can you offer?
The needs may seem so vast knowing where to start may be daunting. Start with who you know. Is there a person in your circle of friends or acquaintances that could do with a helping hand? Think about what interests you or makes you really angry — some injustice or wrong that frustrates you no end. This is where you have passion — invest in these areas.
Do not underestimate the power of anger directed positively to make radical changes in communities. My business partner, Trevor Nel, revitalised the security in his residential area after finding his neighbour shot seven times by armed robbers. His neighbour survived and the community is safer by far.
But giving is not reserved for our private lives. It’s not just something we do on weekends to salvage our souls after sweating it out in the salt mines of business. Zig Ziglar, a motivational speaker and author and highly successful businessman, says this, “If you give enough people what they want, you will get what you want.” Helen Nicholson, CEO of The Networking Company, advocates that in order to build a strong and effective network find ways of giving to others before expecting anything in return. It makes sense, you have to build up credits before you can make a withdrawal.
In other words, to be successful in business you have to begin by giving people what they want. This means listening to what people want and need. These usually fall into three areas: health, wealth and relationships. It means finding unique and excellent solutions to people’s problems. It requires serving your customer superbly.
Lastly, our world needs people who dare to take on the global challenges that face us — whether that is the environment, poverty, reconciliation or any other crisis. Or it may be some impossible dream that will create whole new ways of being. This has become known as a Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP).
Peter Diamandis is someone who is driven by his MTP. He was recently named by Fortune as one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. Through the XPRIZE Foundation and Singularity University he is equipping and resourcing leaders and entrepreneurs to improve the world through exponential growth technologies. This is what Diamandis says about living and working according to such a MTP, “Find something you would die for, and live for it.”
Elon Musk is another great example of someone who is powered by his MTP and is in the process changing the world, and possibly even beyond our world. Musk is driven by the belief that humans must become an inter-planetary species. Making this a reality is his purpose. An entire organization of bright, talented, expert and passionate people are applying themselves to this purpose through SpaceX.
The characteristics of a MTP are as follows:
· Huge and aspirational
· Clearly focused
· Aimed at radical transformation
Where and how will you start giving? In your personal life, in your business, in transforming the world? So many opportunities to make a difference and it comes back to you in ways you can’t even imagine.