To Receive, GIVE

About 15 years ago, I worked for a large international construction company in Washington, D.C. that would often organize local community outreach and volunteer programs. One of my favorite experiences was volunteering for the Honor Flight program, a charity that will fly any willing and able WWII veteran from their home city to visit Washington D.C. and the various memorials, specifically the WWII memorial.

Our company sponsored flights and hotel accommodations for the veterans and their caregivers, a meet and greet dinner on Friday night, as well as a coach bus ride to the city for a day touring the memorials on Saturday. Since many WWII veterans were in their 20s during the war in the early 1940s, all of the veterans were in their mid-80s or older for this trip, and for many, it was their first and only trip to Washington D.C. to visit the memorial.

A few days before the event, I was asked if I wanted to be a “tour guide” on one of the buses from the hotel to the city. The event organizer told me, “As you’re driving into the city, point out some of the buildings.” I thought that sounded pretty simple and might be fun, so I spent a few nights looking at maps, the route, and the buildings we’d be passing along the way, trying to get some interesting facts (and this was before I had a smartphone, in 2006!) 

During the bus ride tour, I thought I had done a decent job initially answering their questions, but unfortunately, no one told them I was not an actual tour guide . . . so when they started asking really detailed questions about specific buildings, I did my best, but ultimately found myself just trying to get them all laughing, and we ended up having an amazing time.

Overall, I found myself instantly connecting with almost 60 veterans and their “bring a friends,” often one of their children or even their adult grandchildren. This made the rest of the day amazing, getting to know, interact with, and help out these veterans who had such powerful stories. They even told stories of the war that their adult children had heard for the first time. I got to give some of my time and embarrass myself a bit in front of some truly amazing individuals, but I got so much more in return.  

A book by Bob Burg, The Go-Giver, explains a philosophy that you’ll get so much more if you lead with giving. Put simply, don’t be a Go-Getter, be a Go-Giver! Burg explains that “Success is the result of specific habits of action: creating value, touching people’s lives, putting others’ interests first, being real, and having the humility to stay open to receiving.” I realized after reading the book that all of these criteria were met with the experience I had volunteering that weekend.  

During a month focused on giving, how can we look at giving differently and try to incorporate it more into our everyday lives?  Outlined below are some of the key points in The Go-Giver:

Create Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you receive in payment. 

“Shifting one’s focus from getting to giving (constantly and consistently providing value to others) is not only a pleasant way to live life but a very rewarding way as well.” 

“Approach every interaction first from the perspective of how you can add value to the other person.”

Touch Lives: Your success is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.  

Figure out what you do well and how you can help others, then try to help as many people as possible by building a network and community through connection, communication, and collaboration. 

Focus on Others: Your Influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. Genuine influence is the ability to influence others simply by the nature of who you are and how you interact instead of influencing them because of a particular position or title you hold. 

“Approach every interaction first from the perspective of how you can add value to the other person.”  

Ask yourself, “In what ways might I contribute significantly to this person’s life?”

Be Authentic: The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.

“The critical skill in finding success is your capacity to be authentic – to make a connection”

“All the skills in the world (technical, people, etc.) as important as they are (and they are!) are all for naught if you don’t come at it from your own authentic core.”

Be Receptive: “The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.” 

Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin, and they work in tandem, every giving can only happen because it is also a receiving. 

“If you don’t let yourself receive, you’re refusing the gifts of others, and you shut down the flow.”

I hope you can apply these philosophies to your personal and professional lives. In summary, “The more you give, the more you have.” 

Jason Harrington

CEO & Founder

Prowess Fitness + Nutrition

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