Keep the Old, Donate the New

Often what we call generosity is little more than dressed up materialism: "If I clean out my closets and donate the old clothes, then I can get more new stuff for ME."

While there's nothing wrong with donating old items to charity (and if the items are usable, it's a much better option than throwing them away), consider your motives when giving.

If a wishlist for a homeless shelter includes a coffee maker, and yours works perfectly well, keep yours and donate a brand new one.

Dignity is not just affirmed through words, but also through actions. Donating new items shows people that you believe they are worth spending money on and that they are worthy of having nice things.

When people feel worthy, their lives begin to change.


Originally published March 2015

Bitter or Better

In life and business, you'll be served up experiences you'd rather not have. To think you can control everything that comes your way — either through being a good person or positive thinking — is a philosophy of bondage rather than freedom, and not at all rooted in reality.

Kind, positive people are diagnosed with cancer every day.

Wholesome, hospitable families lose loved ones far too early every day.

Ethical, generous companies get knocked off every day.

It's not because of some moral failing on their part or because they neglected to send the right vibes out into the universe.

In a sense, this plays out like a chess game. You can't control your opponent's moves, you can only control your own. Your choices incorporate strategy, foresight, skill . . . but the magic is that the responsibility for your moves is 100% yours.

You can allow the experiences that come your way to make you bitter or better, but you can't blame anyone else for how you choose to respond to them. That is all you.


Originally published September 2014

Ask For The Story

In my personal life I do quite a bit of work with kids. More often than not, when I ask a child a question and they begin to answer, a well-intentioned adult will interrupt and give a succinct explanation, ending the conversation.

The adult's behavior is easy to understand: the child's answers are often long-winded, hopping from point to point, never really touching on what I initially asked — at least not at first.

I often have to tell the adult, "I was asking because I am interested in the story, not the answer."

When you ask a child a question and then give them space to talk, you'll learn much more. More importantly, it shows them that their opinions and perspectives are valued and that they have a right to voice them.

The same thing applies to conversations with adults.

In our impatience to tick a box on a checklist, in our desire to have everything nicely tied up in a bow, in our drive to find the most efficient solutions and increase our productivity, we settle for surface conversations and miss out on the joys and benefits deep listening brings.

There's a quote I love because it proves true over and over: "A good listener helps us overhear ourselves."

Ask people questions and then give them space to talk.

 


Originally pubilshed January 2015