Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness: Showing others what they're made of

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

In many instances, it’s easy to share. All we need is a bit of motivation and some generosity. Write a check to a charity, show someone how to do something you already know how to do, share knowledge by posting on a blog. Sharing is a small, often painless and free, gesture. Anyone from any socioeconomic level, of any age, in any geographic location on Earth can do it.

What Benjamin Disraeli is talking about is more substantive. It requires more commitment, more dedication, more patience than sharing alone. Revealing your own gifts and using them for the benefit of others is done over and over again every day in every corner of the world. To help someone else realize their own potential, to cultivate someone else’s knowledge and creativity, to give them the confidence to go out into the world and make an impact is something that needs much more time, intention, and attention.

The payback for helping an individual or an organization help others is immense, much greater than if we only share what we’ve got. There’s a multiplicative effect. We help someone help several others who in term each help several others and so on. Consider it a pyramid scheme of generosity, something the world desperately needs now more than ever.

Of course the best of all possible scenarios is that by sharing what we’ve got, we inspire others to share. Think about teachers, writers, and artists, and how they inspire the imaginations of others. Consider how small acts of kindness inspire the “pay it forward” mentality. While giving and sharing are important actions for each of us to take, we also need to encourage and teach them to others in our lives.

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