What is your giving quotient (GQ)?
An executive friend of mine was exploring new career opportunities within his current organization. Many of his friends were encouraging him to ask for what he wanted. I told him “What you want is only half of the story. You need to also ask your boss how your skills and interests will best benefit the company”.
I remember once asking a new groom on the eve of his marriage ceremony “What’s in you for this marriage?” The question took him by surprise because he had been preoccupied with a cost/benefit analysis of that big life event.
So then how do we keep our focus on what we give and not just what we get?
We let go of attachment
In a recent team-building exercise I commented to a group of senior executives “instead of asking what your team is giving to you ask what you can give back to other members in your regional group”.
Legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson of Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers fame talks about the importance of giving in his book “Sacred Hoops”. When he started coaching the Bulls he had a team of super stars like Pippen and Jordan. But the team was not consistently winning championship titles. One of Jackson’s first tasks was to sell the team on the virtue and practice of being less selfish. He told them in effect, “The name of the team is on the front of the jersey. Your name is on the back.”
Try tightly grasping a coin in your hand and at the same time attempt to pick up some new object with that hand. Impossible right? So too, we restrict our capacity to relish life by grasping onto relationships and things.
Poet Robert Blake wrote
He who binds himself to a Joy
Does the winged life destroy;
He who kisses the Joy as it flies,
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.
We live with gratitude for what we have
Occasionally we find ourselves astonished at the goodness of life. Most of the time, however, we wander through life with little gratitude. We fail to notice the beauty of the countryside or the kindness of others. We can spend most of our reflective time focusing on the past and especially the future without truly being in the present. As John Lennon cogently noted in one of his songs: “Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.”
Yesterday I heard from a friend who is living with a family member with Alzheimer’s. As he talked about the difficulties of living with a person with this disease I felt both a surge of compassion for him as well as gratitude that I have so much.
Life seems to fly by the older I get. I cannot stop that flight and make time stand still, go back to the good old days, or stop the pace of progress. I can stop to kiss the joy that flies by, savor the moment, and live as fully as I can in the present.
We give back where we can
In the “What’s in it for me?” generation I ask myself from time to time “What have I given lately?”
The question “What’s in me for it?” takes us off the automatic pilot of self-seeking. It pushes us from a self to an other focus and from an extrinsic to an intrinsic motivation. The deep satisfaction that comes form giving back to a community, mentoring others, and being mindful of the impact of our kind words throughout the day can be a source of deep fulfillment as well as encouragement to others.
What’s in you for others?
Please share the fulfillment you have found in increasing your GQ