leadership incorporated blog

January 25, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: A success secret from multi-millionaires who once had nothing

I recently interviewed 11 extremely successful business leaders and philanthropists, each of whom had just made a gift of a million dollars or more to a particular charitable organization. For most, this was a small gift.

While there were many points of difference, each of these leaders had made their own success, had come from having nothing. What struck me most was that they each, unprompted and in their own words, said something to the effect of: “I receive much more than I give.” One put it best:

“If people understood how much you get by giving, everyone would give.”

My first coach told me, “Whatever you want, give it away.” If you want money, give money. If you want Introductions, give introductions. If you want success, help make others successful. Want to be heard? Try listening. Want to be appreciated? Appreciate.

Most important and most difficult: do this without attachment. Don’t give saying, “Here’s your client, now where’s mine?” This is not true generosity.

Sometimes direct reciprocation takes years to arrive. Often the client, the money, the appreciation you receive comes from somewhere else.

I’ve made generosity the foundation of my business. I am frequently awestruck by the incredible opportunities that come my way as a result.

There are many ways to be generous and most don’t involve money.

Be generous with your time, attention, acknowledgements, introductions, information, wisdom, and resources. Be generous by understanding what another person or organization needs and help them to get it. Be generous in your assessments of those around you, whether business or personal.

In a certain sense, it’s all personal.

In today’s economy, driven by fear, common sense says to tighten, contract, withdraw, cut. And as we cut our budgets and resources, we constrict everything else as well. We take fewer growth-oriented meetings. We cut off new ideas and new people. We think we can’t afford anything and if we can’t afford it, we can’t afford to hear about it. We limit our opportunities. And opportunities are exactly what we need right now.

Make generosity your policy. Invite new opportunities. Find ways to be truly generous this week.

Let me know how it goes.


1 Comment »

  1. Beautiful, Sharon. “Pay it forward” is foundational to real happiness, in my book!

    My experience is that the giving spirit flows from a state of gratitude — not just for what we have, but especially for what we have to contribute. The more grateful we are, the more we have to be grateful for; likewise, the more we give, the more we have to give.

    Good circulation is required for good health, literally and figuratively, individually and collectively. Giving and gratitude are core to living in a state of flow.

    Great post.

    Comment by JP — January 25, 2010 @ 6:07 pm | Reply

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